Black Holes

During the Bush Administration,secret prisons were used in foreign countries and were referred to as ‘black holes.”  Now, according to this piece in The Nation bu Jacqueline Stevens, we have black holes, secret prisons, right here in the United States.

The piece ends with this sentence,

An attorney who had a client held in a subfield office said on background, “The president released in January a memorandum about transparency, but that’s not happening. He says one thing, but we have these clandestine operations, akin to extraordinary renditions within the United States. They’re misguided as to what their true mission is, and they are doing things contrary to the best interests of the country.”

One hundred eighty six of them, unmarked, unlisted sub-field offices, spread across the country.  No review, minor petty bureaucrats, who have the authority (they take it upon themselves, knowing they will never be disciplined for it) to deport anyone they want to.

In late October 2008, Mark Lyttle, then 31, was held in the Cary office for several hours. Lyttle was born in North Carolina, and the FBI file ICE had obtained on him indicated he was a US citizen. Lyttle used his time in the holding tank attempting to persuade the agents who had plucked him out of the medical misdemeanor section of a nearby prison, where he had been held for seventy-three days, not to follow through on the Cary office’s earlier decision to ship him to Mexico. Lyttle is cognitively disabled, has bipolar disorder, speaks no Spanish and has no Mexican relatives. In response to his entreaties, a Cary agent “told me to tell it to the judge,” Lyttle said. But Lyttle’s charging document from the Cary office includes a box checked next to the boilerplate prohibition: “You may not request a review of this determination by an immigration judge.”

Lyttle made enough of a fuss at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, that the agents there arranged for him to appear before a judge. But the checked box in the Cary paperwork meant he never heard from the nonprofit Legal Orientation Program attorneys who might have picked up on his situation. William Cassidy, a former ICE prosecutor working for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, ignored Lyttle’s pleas and in his capacity as immigration judge signed Lyttle’s removal order. According to Lyttle, Cassidy said he had to go by the sworn statements of the ICE officers.

Meanwhile, Lyttle’s mother, Jeanne, and his brothers, including two in the Army, were frantically searching for him, even checking the obituaries. They were trying to find Lyttle in the North Carolina prison system, but the trail went cold after he was transferred to ICE custody. Jeanne said, “David showed me the Manila envelope [he sent to the prison]–‘Refused’–and we thought Mark had refused it.” Jeanne was crying. “We kept trying to find out where he was.” It never crossed their minds that Mark might be spending Christmas in a shelter for los deportados on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

Tranparency?  It is getting worse.  Obama’s Justice Dept argues at an en banc proceeding in the 9th Circuit to uphold Bush’s assault on the Constitution.

Unitary Executive – Part 2

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