Q&A: Gitmo Lawyer Shayana Kadidal on SCOTUS Ruling

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Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo project at the Center for Constitutional Rights, isn’t afraid to voice his opinion on the latest SCOTUS ruling in favor of Guantanamo detainees.

Below, excerpts from his conversation with MoJo reporter Stephanie Mencimer:

Mother Jones: Just as a refresher, since it seems as though the administration’s rationale is constantly shifting, why exactly does the Bush administration want so desperately to keep the detainee cases out of federal civilian courts?

Shayana Kadidal: The whole point of creating Guantanamo was to create a black hole to avoid oversight by the courts. They can’t justify the detention of these guys in federal court.

It’s fundamentally an interrogation camp, not a detention camp. They never intended to prosecute and punish them.

MJ: By failing to afford the detainees basic due process rights, not to mention using torture, the Bush administration has succeeded in the extraordinary feat of making Americans feel sorry for the people held at Guantanamo, even though the detainees are supposedly extremely dangerous terrorists out to destroy us. Do you think that the five Supreme Court justices who voted for the detainees were also swayed by the stories about the detainees going crazy after six years in solitary confinement and other allegations of abusive treatment?

SK: The innocence narratives have finally started to catch on. The court finally started to realize that there are scores of innocent people being held there. The notion that there are innocent people down there who have not had a day in court really radiates off the page of the opinion of the majority.

MJ: But Justice Scalia writes at one point that the majority opinion will “almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Is there any reason to believe that he’s right?

SK:The assertion that the criminal justice system isn’t set up to handle these cases is nonsense. We have successfully tried in U.S. District Courts the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, the Cole bombers, and the Kenya embassy bombings. There are a million ways of dealing with this problem.

MJ: How soon could the detainees be released?

SK: For most of these guys, we often joke, the day the government has to come to defend the evidence against them is the day after they will get released.

[Note: For a backgrounder on all things Guantanamo, read The Torture Index.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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