The Guardian today reports on a Somali ‘terror suspect’ who was held and questioned on a US Navy ship for two months, beginning April 19, without legal representation.
The detainment of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, reigniting debate over its similarity to the CIA’s widely criticized ‘black site’ network of detention centers.
Holding suspects in international waters is one way of bypassing domestic and international law. Just last week, Admiral William McRaven, soon to be head of US Special Operations Command, told his confirmation hearing that militants captured outside Afghanistan were often ‘put on a naval vessel’ until cases against them were strengthened.
Warsame is accused of supporting two groups closely monitored by the US: the militant Somali group al-Shabab and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. He was interrogated on an ‘all but daily basis’ on board the ship, with the rules governing his questioning set out in the army field manual (which do now prohibit ‘waterboarding’). Despite this, many rights were withheld from him, such as ‘habeas corpus’ or ‘Miranda rights’ as it is known in the US. Officials claim these were withheld because he was been interrogated for ‘intelligence purposes’ rather than preparation for a criminal conviction.
Article 22 of the third Geneva convention states that combatants can be kept at sea only for as long as needed to transfer them to land.
This maritime detention only exacerbates an escalating series of black-ops and now ‘black seas‘ under the Obama administration.