Speaking today on CNN, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – MD) assured Americans that captured Libyan citizen Anas al-Liby “will be treated like anyone else” and will have “all the legal rights” of anyone facing charges by the US government.
It’s not clear whether that’s supposed to be reassuring or terrifying, as Liby is currently being held on a US Navy transport ship and facing interrogation by the US military, without access to a lawyer.
Liby’s capture was an extraordinary rendition, and a doubly extraordinary one as the military carried it out in the capital of a friendly nation without that nation’s permission.
The Obama Administration also says it is “undecided” on exactly what it’s going to do with the newly captured detainee, and Rep. Ruppersberger’s insistence that he’s going to get a real trial in a real civilian court seems to be a wild guess, with White House officials saying they can send him wherever they want, and that a Gitmo-style military tribunal, virtually the exact opposite of a real trial, remains an option.
At the same time, it’s not clear Ruppersberger is wrong that he’s being “treated like anyone else,” since the administration officials who commented insisted that the executive branch has the authority to determine “when and where” to prosecute individuals, and that it is always on a case-by-case basis. So evidently any one of us could find ourselves on a ship in the Mediterranean waiting for enhanced interrogation, and a promise of some sort of trial some day.