U.S. Secret Detention Policies Under Scrutiny
The Obama administration's terrorist detention policies are coming under scrutiny, thanks to one case in particular.
Three alleged members of the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab were arrested in august overseas, in the African country of Djibouti. An attorney for one of the suspects alleges the men were held in secret and interrogated by local authorities and U.S. agents. Their detention only became public when documents were unsealed and the men briefly appeared last December in a Brooklyn court.
"The appropriate venue is not to take somebody involved in a civil war in east Africa and bring them to the eastern district of New York to be prosecuted in the criminal courts." Says terror suspect attorney, Ephraim Savitt. Savitt says there is no evidence his client, a member of Al-Shabaab, committed crimes against the us, citing the thin indictment which includes the blanket charge of "conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization."Savitt says, "under that definition, we could probably round up tens of thousands of fighters and clog our court system for the next couple of decades."
The justice department strongly disputes allegations of rendition telling Fox News, "these suspects were apprehended in Africa by African authorities. Months later, they were indicted in federal court in New York. Ultimately, they were transferred lawfully and pursuant to requests through formal channels from the custody of authorities in Africa to the FBI."
Though critics say the recent case raises questions about detention practices and they point to candidate Obama's statements seeming to shun the use of renditions all together, "we're not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they are there or what they are charged with."
Military analysts believe the men are of interest because they may have valuable intelligence about the Al-Qaeda networks which explains their detention and prosecution in the U.S.