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Dangerous World of Indefinite Detentions: Vietnam to Abu Ghraib

NCJ Number
Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law Volume: 37 Issue: 2 & 3 Dated: 2006 Pages: 449-508
Jennifer Van Bergen; Douglas Valentine
Date Published
60 pages
This article compares the current administrative detention policies of the United States in its war on terror with the detention policies used in Vietnam.
The authors illustrate the similarities between the detention policies adopted for the war on terror and for the war in Vietnam and demonstrate a connection between administrative detention and the use of torture. Administrative detention strips those being detained of normal human rights and legal guarantees, such as due process, fair trial, and confidential counsel. Without such protections human rights violations run rampant and include the use of torture. The authors are critical of the Bush Administration’s use of administrative detention and argue that the PATRIOT Act subverts safeguards found within the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and its core Bill of Rights. In analyzing the similarities between the administrative detention policies of Vietnam and the war on terror, the author focuses on four current detention locations--Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States--and on three cases of detained U.S. citizens--Yaser Esam Hamdi, Jose Padilla, and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. The Phoenix Program, a 1967 CIA program involving the screening, detention, and interrogation of Vietnam citizens, is likened to the detention and interrogation of the three U.S. citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” as well as other detentions carried out under the authority of the PATRIOT Act. The detention authority provided in Bush’s Military Order of November 2001 is examined, particularly regarding the screening and treatment of prisoners, and compared to Article 5 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. The main concern regarding these types of policies is that they could lead to the indefinite administrative detention of anyone who criticizes the government. The authors assert that in both cases, the war in Vietnam and the war on terror, the U.S. government intentionally violated Geneva Conventions. Footnotes