My law school will be sponsoring a “teach-in” on issues raised by Guantanamo Bay detentions tomorrow, Oct. 5. Many law schools are broadcasting the event, and you can also tune in the webcast.
Rather coincidentally, today there was a quite troubling interview with John Yoo on NPR. Yoo repeatedly insisted that, because the trial of the detainees “was not a criminal trial,” they deserve very few procedural rights. He also defended the President’s sole right to determine when a trial should be given to detainees. Yoo acknowledged that “there is always the chance” that innocents would be caught up in the camps. He then defended this situation by saying “no system is perfect;” there are many innocents caught up in the criminal justice system. But he then said (at exactly 6 minutes into the interview) about the innocents in the criminal justice system:
“That’s why we have all these processes, that’s why we have all these appeals levels, is to try to correct any mistakes that were made and to prevent errors.”
So let me get this straight–we accept the fact that there are innocents in the criminal justice system because “we have all these appeals levels . . . to try to correct any mistakes that were made and to prevent errors.” And we are to accept the fact that there are innocents in the detainee system because. . . . recent legislation stripped out virtually all those appeals levels and procedural safeguards?
The interviewer tried to press that point, and Yoo feinted back to the “justice costs too much” argument. As I tell my students in admin, that’s always the agency trump card when it wants unreviewable discretion to change course. But I’d think that when we’re talking about the prospect of a totally innocent person potentially being detained indefinitely, we could throw a few dollars at the problem.