One piece of good news on an otherwise dreary day: a federal judge has ordered the release of the 17 Uighurs whom the US government has imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for the last seven years.
At a hearing packed with Uighurs who live in the Washington area, Urbina rejected government arguments that he had no authority to order the men's release. He said he had such authority because the men were being held indefinitely and it was the only remedy available. He cited a June decision by an appellate court that found evidence against the Uighurs to be unreliable.
Urbina said in court that he ordered the release "because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detention without cause." He added, "The separation of powers do not trump" the prohibition against holding people indefinitely without trial.
And if you were curious how broken the Justice Department still is, wonder no more. The DoJ attorney, John O'Quinn, who had been making the argument for holding the Uighurs until the stars fell from the skies, intimated that, upon release, the US government might detain them again. In other words, having failed to produce any evidence that the Uighurs were terrorists bent on killing Americans, the Justice Department asserted that it would hold the Uighurs again because the US government accused them of belonging to a terrorist organization.
Maybe the US government is trying hard to keep the Uighurs in prison to keep Chinese leaders happy. However, I suspect that the DoJ's "assert executive fictional executive powers with maximum effort" policies, created and perfected during the Bush Administration, have as much or more to do with the continued effort to keep these 17 Uighurs in one prison or another. If you find that hard to believe, listen to this podcast before jumping to any conclusions. Ashcroft and Gonzales may be gone, but most of the people that the DoJ hired or promoted in the last several years are still there. Many are stalwart public servants with great respect for the Constitution and the laws...And some have different ideas.