Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The Importance of Due Process to Gary Gordon Smith, Abu Bakker and Adel ?

gary_gordon_smith.jpgThe United States is holding captive at Guantanamo Bay at least two men it knows are innocent of any wrongdoing. These men were cleared by the military courts, almost two years ago, and they are still in captivity. It makes me too angry to write about, so go read Requiem:

In the comments to an earlier post, someone thought that I was using O.K. as a “poster boy” for habeas corpus. I wasn’t: I was tracking down the stories Graham used, and in O.K.’s case I tried to make it clear that he was accused of doing serious things, and that his goodness or badness seemed to me to have nothing to do with whether or not his allegations should be investigated. The case I am about to describe, however, is a poster child for habeas corpus. The detainees involved have been found innocent by the government’s own tribunals. They are asking the government to explain why they are still being detained. This is exactly what habeas corpus is all about. It is also a case that cannot be brought under the new compromise bill; and that is a disgrace.

Something that’s not clear to me: Why doesn’t Adel have the dignity of a last name? Is it reported anywhere, and I’ve missed it?
I’d like to next talk about Gary Gordon Smith (pictured).

Smith, 51, is the police chief in Northfield, Minn. He’s been in law enforcement for 24 years. His credentials and fingerprints show up in a host of state and federal government databases. He recently trained at a prestigious FBI Academy in Virginia. As a police chief, he has access to classified homeland security alerts and bulletins.

But Smith might as well change his name to Osama bin Laden. Both appear on the government’s secret “no-fly” watch list.

(Actually, that’s incorrect. Osama bin Laden is not on the no fly list. But I digress.) The St Paul Pioneer Press goes on to discuss his ineffective efforts to get off the list at some length.

What both of these cases have in common is that we have allowed a bureaucracy to define a set of processes, and hide those processes from the courts in the name of national security. Those processes, as they come to light, turn out to be uniformly broken. We need the courts to declare their competence to hear what’s being done in our names, and to rule on it. That may or may not be judicial activism, but it is certainly why we have courts.

Police chief story via Privacy Clue, Obsidian Wings via Michael Froomkin. Also, Chris reported this story earlier in “‘To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice.’.” Finally, personal to DB: Yes, I know, selectee. I’ll stop saying no-fly when the system has not just good intentions, but due process overseen by the courts.

One comment on "The Importance of Due Process to Gary Gordon Smith, Abu Bakker and Adel ?"

  • David Brodbeck says:

    It’s possible Adel doesn’t have a last name, or chooses not to use it. In Afghanistan most people have only one name.

Comments are closed.