The Administration's 'Faux Consultation'

Civil liberties and human rights groups aren't happy with the Obama administration--most recently, for supporting military tribunals for detainees. Policy aside, some charge that the administration has neglected to seek their advice before deciding--and that it's ignoring valuable input on detainee-related policies.

The administration's interagency panel on detinee policy met today with three human-rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, to discuss the tribunals decision and hear input, according to Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

On a conference call with media today, I asked Roth and ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero about today's meeting, and whether they feel they're being listened to.

"What I'm frustrated with is this process of faux consultation," Romero said. "We were set to meet with the same policy panel on June 9th...One would have thought that the input and perspectives of lawyers working on these actual cases, who have actually met the clients...would have been of some utility before the decision was made."

Romero says the ACLU has 25 lawyers and has spent $2 million on detainee-related cases.

"There's been virtually no looks like a lot of window dressing...asking to parade in when decisions are already made," Romero said.

Roth took a less damning tone, but echoed Romero's point. He also called the task force "uninformed," suggesting it would have benefited from taking more outside input earlier.

"[T]his consultation took place three days after the decision was made," Roth said. "There is a bit of the horse trying to catch up with the cart."

"I was struck by how uninformed the task force was on a lot of issues...they didn't even understand the extent to which the international laws of war justify detentions or not," Roth said. "There seems to be this facile equation that there's military force used against al Qaeda so there can be [detentions without trial]." Roth says the laws of war only apply to intergovernmental conflicts.