Obama Swaps ‘Black Sites’ for ‘Justice at Sea’

Detainee Faces Open-Ended Interrogation in International Waters

Over the past 12 years, captives disappeared off the streets of foreign cities have regularly found themselves in CIA “black sites,” held incommunicado for indefinite periods of time for “enhanced interrogation.”

President Obama harshly criticized this policy at one point, but the weekend capture of Abu Anas al-Liby has set up a distinction without a difference, as he is being held in similar circumstances at sea.

Liby’s capture by US ground troops sparked an immediate rebuke from the Libyan government, and the Obama Administration is now holding Liby on the USS San Antonio, an amphibious warship, and arguing that it can more or less keep him there as long as it likes, and since it’s in international water, it’s outside of the US justice system.

Officials say that Liby has not been Mirandized, and is facing open-ended interrogation on the ship without access to a lawyer, with officials saying they intend to bring him up for charges at some unspecified point in the future, at some unknown venue. Until then, if “then” ever comes, he remains in the same legal limbo as many other US detainees, with the ship just the latest excuse to avoid an actual trial.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.