Greenwald: Indefinite detention policies have become normalized legally, politically and culturally in Israel and the US

From Glenn Greenwald’s article “Khader Adnan and normalized Western justice“:

Writing today about the Adnan case in The National, Joseph Dana explains that Israel imprisons Adnan and so many like him pursuant to “a framework of laws and statutes to govern all aspects of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and “many, if not most, of the laws governing movement of Palestinians, freedom of speech and association are draconian in nature; none is more alarming than the administrative detention order. The order enables Israel to hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.” Behold the principles of justice driving this Israeli behavior:

Mr Adnan’s story is emblematic of the administrative detention experience of many Palestinians. He claims to have been beaten and humiliated by Israeli soldiers while in custody, and began his hunger strike in protest. On January 8, Mr Adnan was given a four-month administrative detention order, which can be renewed indefinitely, after a military judge reviewed classified information against him. Evidence and allegations have not been made available to Adnan or to his lawyer.

According to the Israeli military, information in administrative detention cases is kept classified in order to protect sources of intelligence. To this day, the only claim that Israel has made about Mr Adnan’s detention is that he is a high risk to Israeli security.

Of course, the U.S. has its own system of indefinite detention now firmly in place. Both within war zones and outside of them, the Obama administration continues to hold hundreds of prisoners who have never been charged with any crime even as they have remained captive for many years. Put another way, both the U.S. and its closest client state have completely normalized exactly the type of arbitrary, due-process-free imprisonment the U.S. has long condemned as the defining attribute of despotism. And, of course, the U.S. Congress just enacted, and President Obama just signed, a law that expressly permits indefinite detention.

Worse, these countries have has normalized this practice not merely in terms of government policy, but also the expectations of their own citizens. A recent Washington Post/ABC New poll found widespread support across the American ideological spectrum for maintaining Guantanamo, where more than 150 prisoners are still held without any charges of any kind, while Dana today writes that “to date, Mr Adnan’s hunger strike has stirred little debate in the Israeli press about the legitimacy of administrative detention” (this is the seventh time Adnan has been imprisoned without charges). The hallmark of the Supremely Authoritarian Citizen — dutifully reciting unproven Government accusations as Truth to justify due-process-free punishment (he’s a Terrorist!) — is now extremely commonplace in the citizenries of both countries.

Even random glances at State Department Human Rights reports will lead one to the most suffocatingly hypocritical denunciations by the U.S. Government. It condemns China, for instance, for the harsh detention conditions of one detainee who “was repeatedly subjected to solitary confinement. . . . The longest period of such confinement reportedly lasted 11 months.” Accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning, convicted of no crime, spent 10 months in extreme solitary confinement; the U.S. prison industry is teeming with prisoners who are subjected to this abuse (as one American held for 10 years in solitary confinement by China put it last month in an Op-Ed: “Imagine how shocked I was to find years later that we, the United States of America, hold more human beings in long-term solitary confinement than any other country in the world. I had supposed it would be China — but, no, it’s us”); meanwhile, Israel routinely uses harsh solitary confinement for Palestinian prisoners and even places Palestinian children in solitary confinement for weeks on end.

The State Department report on China also accuses the Communist state of “extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process.” That, of course, is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing continuously with its manic fixation on drone murders in at least six Muslim countries and its targeted, due-process-free execution of its own citizens (and their children). Again, not only does this provoke very little controversy among Americans, this power long cited by the State Department as the ultimate indiciator of tyranny — “executions without due process” — now provokes widespread cheers from majorities of all American political factions. Israel, of course, has been using due-process-free “targeted assassinations” for many years.

What’s so notable here isn’t merely that the U.S. and Israel are engaged in the very practices which the U.S. annually and flamboyantly condemns as “human rights abuses” when done by others. It’s that these abuses have now been going on for so long in the two countries, are so entrenched, that they have been absorbed into the political landscape as barely noticed accoutrements. They have become completely normalized — not just legally and politically but culturally – to the point where they are scarcely controversial.

Earlier today, Foreign Policy Managing Editor Blake Hounshell wrote about the Palestinian hunger striker: “If Khader Adnan is really a member of Islamic Jihad, he should be charged and tried in court. If he’s committed no crime, release him.” That this even needs to be said at all is a potent sign of how severely our conceptions of justice have collapsed

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Occupation, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics, War on Terror

{ 14 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Dan Crowther says:

    This is another article where “lobby vs state” arguments can go on and on….. But again, this article illustrates the actual policies favored by Israel and the US (whatever we think of Israel’s role in US policy formation) — and they are by defintion, fascist.

    I am one who has remained skeptical about the power of the lobby in official us statecraft, because I think (again, i may be wrong) that lobby arguments direct too much focus on the “israel centric” players, which in turn deflects attention from the US’s record not only in the rest of the region, but in the rest of the world. (Enter Chomsky bashing here)

    But what cannot be ignored is the source from where so many of these fascist policies originate – namely Israel, and Jewish officials/politicians. So, no more “Israel Lobby” for Dan-o, henceforth it will be the Fascist Lobby, or simply the fascists.

    Jeff Halper says we gotta stop talking their language in terms of two states, I say we gotta stop giving these people the benefit of the doubt – Fascism is here. Let’s do something about it!

    • Yup,

      Eistein warned about the fascism coming, and with Likud now entrenched, Israel got it…. and is sliding deeper into it as the days pass.
      link to

      Sage Francis, about our own fascist issue-
      link to

      By the time the flags rotted off of their antennas,
      they were questioning who the real threat is.
      Big Brotherly love is the 21st Century’s plague.
      no matter how bloody the glove, question evidence displayed.

      Don’t forget what two plus two equals.
      Don’t let them upgrade your math no matter what they have as proof of evil.
      Remember when they went after the Jewish people?
      You don’t recognize that same black mask as see through?

      Attack of the eagles. If they don’t fall dead
      before they reach me, I’ll be damned if I don’t shoot one in its bald head.
      F@ck what we’re force fed. All I ever wanted
      was a warm bed and a house that wasn’t haunted.

      I’d rather die for a cause than to die just because
      we exhaust natural resources forced into wars,
      restoring wasteful ways, keeping other countries poor.
      “Monkey see, Monkey do” I wonder what those f@cking monkeys saw.

  2. pabelmont says:

    Dan, agreed. And since much of US foreign policy is conducted to protect USA’s easy access to raw materials and oil, we should replace a concern and denunciation of American “Israel Firsters” with concern and denunciation of American “Corporations Firsters”.

    And some writers have said that “Fascism” is the control of the country by a few corporations (and a few immensely wealthy individuals) and for their profit, it all hangs together.

    • Keith says:

      PABELMONT- I thought that you might be interested in the following quote:

      “Modern fascism should be properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state, military and corporate power.” (Benito Mussolini)

    • Citizen says:

      Whatever, tossing about the word “fascism” is soft stuff, easy to puncture. What I do know is, imagine if the Israelis and Palestinians were each in the other’s shoes. Wouldn’t our US mainstream press be raising holy hell about the destruction of the protection of constitutional due process and our bar to unreasonable search and seizure? Would that same MSM be rampant with rhetoric telling us how Homeland Security is a pernicious legal and cultural clone of Heimat-Gestapo Germany?

      • Dan Crowther says:

        Well, yes it would – I think that only add credence to the argument. Authoritarian societies always define themselves by a “us vs them” mindset- a hypothetical reversal of the players ( jewish israeli’s and palestinians) does go along way in illustrating how authoritarian the MSM press is, and how the collective efforts of what i now refer to as the fascist lobby has exacerbated the problem.

        • Citizen says:

          If you go to this link, and scroll down to the bottom video clip from, you will find a most excellent old lecture by Judge Napolitano taking you step-by-step through how our government has, through its sequential congressional legislation, and presidential abuse of authority, has systematically deprived us of our 4th Amendment protection. It’s really scary because there does not seem to be anything anyone is doing about it. For example the Feds can now open your mail before you, can go to your place of employment, or to places like where you shop, say for food, and go to your bank, and use all or any of what they find against you without you even knowing they have such information; further, the Feds can can even burglarize your home, take away your bank records or simply bug your home with listening devices, etc–while, say, you are out a ball game with your kid, or having dinner with your wife or girl friend. The Patriot Act (which is worse now than when the Judge gave his lecture) allows all of this; the House was given 15 minutes to read the nearly 400 page Patriot Act, which pages refer to minute deletions, additions etc in our entire federal criminal code, and the vote to pass said legislation was by oral vote only; only a couple of congressmen voted against it, the ones who had taken the time to read the entire act ahead of time–one is dead now. I think another was Feingold.
          link to

          BTW, I don’t know “the fascist lobby” is such a useful replacement as it it so nonspecific in a way. Maybe “the Israel=USA” lobby?

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Im starting to like that Napolitano cat – he seems pretty consistent on civil liberty issues, and war….obviously he had to go at Fox….

          I say fascists because it infers that there are many different groups within the group – some with competing interests etc. which is usually true of fascist movements. So, guys like the Koch Brothers probably couldnt care less about Israel – they were actually doing big biz in Iran not too long ago- just like some of the Israel obsessed hate big oil. But they can coalesce around a certain few things, which are generally authoritarian policies and so on. But no matter how you slice em – they hate democracy.

        • Yep, the frew clips I saw from Napolitano, they were really great. The last sane voice on Fox, after Carl Cameron was forced to cancel his investigative series about Israeli spying in the US.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Just in today – Elena Kagan sides with the right wing justices on Miranda

          link to

          And Russ Feingold says the killing of Anwar Al Awlaki “pleased” him:

          link to

          This is what it means to be “liberal” in America

  3. Glenn Greenwald should get twice the airtime and thrice the money compared to Rachel Maddow and the other useless clowns on television.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      There’s also Greg Palast, whose desire to remain a real actual journalist pretty much forced him to look for a job outside the United States. I’ve stopped listening to Rachel. I couldn’t abide her show when she joined the drumbeat for war with Iran.

      • Dan Crowther says:

        I havent watched Maddow since here infamous “This is what Israel does” line during the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti when the Israeli’s sent a medical ship ( US donated of course)… I nearly vomited and havent watched since – she is beating the drums?? really?