Yet, the case of al-Libi reveals a growing trend within the Obama administration: floating ‘black sites’ aboard warships. Somali citizen Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was interrogated and denied his legal rights aboard a U.S. warship for two months in 2011 before he was brought to New York to face terrorism charges.

The capture of al-Libi, an alleged high-level al Qaeda operative, prompted immediate rebuke from the Libyan government, as well as from policy experts and peace campaigners concerned about shadowy military operations and denial of human rights as the ‘war on terror’ pivots to the continent of Africa.

The detention of al-Libi “appears to be an attempt to use assertion of law of war powers to avoid constraint and safeguards in the criminal justice system,” Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Associated Press. “I am very troubled if this is the pattern that the administration is setting for itself.”

Critics charge that indefinite detention, from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. warships, constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment. “[W]e know indefinite detention causes such severe, prolonged and harmful health and mental health problems for those detained [and] that it can constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” declared Curt Goering, executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture, in a recent statement.


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