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Cablegate: US Diplomat Lauded Former Gitmo Detainee's Work on Detainee Resettlement

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Headlined to H3 12/1/10

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A cable with a subject line that reads, "To Hell and Back: Gitmo Ex-Detainee Stumps in Luxembourg," indicates that diplomatically there was an understanding that a former Guantanamo detainee named Moazzam Begg was doing work for the US that others were finding themselves incapable of accomplishing.

The cable's summary outlines how Begg met Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn on January 14, 2010, and pressed the government to accept Gitmo detainees for resettlement. Begg, who was detained and imprisoned in Kandahar, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay and then released to Britain in 2005, is described as having a forgiving attitude at a "Taxi to the Dark Side" documentary screening during a Q&A session that followed.

The comment at the end of the cable declares, "Mr. Begg is doing our work for us, and his articulate, reasoned presentation makes for a convincing argument. It is ironic that after four years of imprisonment and alleged torture, Moazzam Begg is delivering the same demarche to GOL [Gov't of Luxembourg] as we are: please consider accepting GTMO detainees for resettlement. Despite Begg's optimism, the Prime and Foreign Ministers continue to publicly state that the GoL supports the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and stands ready to assist from a financial and logistical perspective, but cannot accept detainees for resettlement."

The author of the cable characterizes Begg as someone presenting an image of "forgive, but never forget." This suggests that unlike others considered to be seeking accountability there was this idea that Begg could be someone to work with so that America could begin to repair its image.

Oddly, despite describing the documentary detailing Begg's capture and detention as "an undisguised attack on the Bush Administration," the cable invites those looking for additional information to go to the Wikipedia sites for "Moazzam Begg" and "Taxi to the Dark Side." Not only is this obviously lazy, it's also stupid. If one reads the sub-section, "Speaker and Activist," it becomes clear that whomever wrote the cable was probably mistaken. Begg has lectured on issues related to "UK Muslim imprisonment without trial, torture, anti-terror legislation and measures and community relations." And, he has allied himself with rights organizations like Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which have criticized US wartime policies and mounted campaigns for accountability for torture and abuse of detainees in the "war on terror."

The cable's nod of approval toward Begg was written as the US was publicly supporting the closing of Guantanamo but privately struggling to convince members of the international community that they should help deal with the problem by agreeing to take some detainees. The inability to muster fortitude and courage and test diplomatic relations gave way to "alternative solutions." A Kuwaiti minister proposed the US drop them off in Afghanistan since that was probably where they were picked up. Saudi King Abdulla wondered if an electronic chip could be planted in detainees so their movements could be tracked like horses.

Marisa L. Porges, former policy adviser with the US Department of Defense's Office of Detainee Affairs, reacts to the information related to detainees in the cables and concludes in an article posted by the Christian Science Monitor, "Guantanamo has long been an issue the international community preferred to keep on Washington's agenda, despite public proclamations otherwise. We should expect Guantanamo to remain open for some time. But, moving forward, we should place responsibility for that not just with the United States but with the entire international community."

Porges' rationalization of the cables, while valuable because of her experience working with "detainee affairs," is further proof of the arrogance and disdain people in international relations have for the leaderships of other countries. Guantanamo is an American mess created by an America that has taken it upon itself to be the world's policeman and engage in a war against terrorism around the globe. Part of its strategy has been to detain, abuse and torture "terror suspects," who often turn out to be innocent civilians, improperly, illegally, and immorally.

What the WikiLeaks cables further indicate is America has this attitude of exceptionalism toward human rights and operates with this mindset that if the world expects America to uphold human rights or curb human rights abuses the international community must step in and intervene. And, if they don't step to the plate, the America will have no choice but to continue to violate international law and do harm to innocent people who are at the moment being indefinitely detained.

The ludicrous nature of such a diplomatic stance on detainees at Guantanamo (along with revelations about US diplomats working to prevent Spain from investigating torture at Guantanamo, secret CIA extraordinary rendition flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq) proves why WikiLeaks is invaluable.

 

Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for OpEdNews.com and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)
 
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