Indefinite detention: Instrument of tyranny

When President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year's Eve, he codified policies of arbitrary and indefinite detention for terror suspects including possibly U.S. citizens. Alexander Hamilton referred to such policies as the "favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." Based on our experience in evaluating and caring for victims of torture and human rights abuses from all over the world, Hamilton was right.

Regardless of the law's applicability to U.S. citizens, indefinite detention in a military facility without charge can be tantamount to torture, causing profound health consequences.

Omoyele Sowore, a Nigerian-born journalist and pro-democracy activist, is a former client of our program. When Mr. Sowore recently spoke at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International, he poignantly noted that when a nation chooses national security over basic freedoms, it becomes a great danger to its own people. He was originally describing African dictatorial regimes.

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