Sunday, January 25, 2009

no actual case files

this is really amazing, especially considering that the bush administration was pressing ahead to try gitmo suspects right up to its final days. you can't prepare for a trial without even a file documenting the evidence you have against the defendant. it's simply not possible, unless, of course, you have no interest in presenting actual evidence before an actual neutral decision maker.

the bush administration spent years preparing for military commission trials. in fact, they prepared for it several times over, as their first plan got struck down by the supreme court, then their second. if they were willing to fight for the right to have special military commissions try the detainees, you'd think they would take even the first step in preparing for such a hearing. i realize the bush administration set a new standard for incompetence, but i have a hard time imagining how anyone could be that bad.

UPDATE: via atrios i see that steve benen sums up the situation rather succinctly:
I mention this, in part to help resolve some lingering confusion. On the one hand, the Bush administration released some detainees who apparently turned out to be pretty dangerous. On the other, the Bush administration refused to release other detainees who weren't dangerous at all, and were actually U.S. allies.

How could this happen? In light of these revelations about the lack of files, it starts to make a lot more sense.

But to put this in an even larger context, consider just how big a mess Bush has left for Obama here. The previous administration a) tortured detainees, making it harder to prosecute dangerous terrorists; b) released bad guys while detaining good guys; and c) neglected to keep comprehensive files on possible terrorists who've been in U.S. custody for several years. As if the fiasco at Gitmo weren't hard enough to clean up.