Hamdi wasn't so bad after all.
Even if Hamdi and his interrogators did this 4,000 times a day, every day, I'm willing to bet they had pretty much exhausted his total intelligence value at Day 3. So what were these endless months of interrogation really for?
Hamdi's case, decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year, was supposed to represent a high-water mark for American freedoms during wartime. He had fought for and won his day in court, an opportunity to question his captors, and a chance at national vindication at the end of it all. Hamdi's name stood for the proposition that the Bush administration couldn't run roughshod over the courts and the law in its pursuit of the war on terror. It now stands for precisely the opposite: With a yawn and a shrug, the administration sidestepped the courts and the judicial process once again, abandoning this criminal prosecution altogether and erasing the episode from our national memory. Hamdi has been stripped of his citizenship and his freedom to travel, and sent packing to his family. The rights and processes guaranteed him by the Supreme Court have been yanked away one last time, by an executive branch that held him for years for no reason and smugly claims now that it was finished with him anyhow.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photograph of Yaser Esam Hamdi by Str/Reuters.