Power of Story Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -
OpEdNews Op Eds

THE ISSUE THAT WON'T GO AWAY

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Author 7
Become a Fan
  (11 fans)
- Advertisement -
News that the Pentagon will soon release about a third of the prisoners still detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has prompted the U.S. media and many in the blogosphere to recall Defense Secretary Rumsfeld 's 2002 statement referring to Guantanamo prisoners as "the worst of the worst ".

And as recently as June 2005, he said, "If you think of the people down there, these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden's] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker."

But the Pentagon 's announcement that it would soon release 141 prisoners or about a third of those still detained at Guantanamo comes despite continuing stubborn defenses of the facility and the way interrogators have determined the status of detainees.

This is not the first time prisoners have been released from the facility. Of the approximately 760 prisoners brought to Guantanamo since 2002, the military has previously released 180 and transferred 76 to the custody of other countries.

- Advertisement -
The Pentagon says the prisoners to be released no longer represent a threat to the U.S. and have no further intelligence value.

But critics of the Bush Administration 's detention policies assert that the military doesn 't have enough on these people to try them, even before its own tribunals, which have a much lower threshold of evidence than our courts.

Gabor Rona, international legal director for Human Rights First, told IPS, "If most of these guys are not al Qaeda, i.e., are vanilla flavored civilians or mere Taliban foot soldiers, then it gives the lie to the single mantra that the administration has left when attempting to defend itself against allegations of abuse in Gitmo: that the 'terrorists ' are trained to make false allegations of abuse. "

- Advertisement -
The Los Angeles Times, which reported the latest prisoner release story, said that charges are pending against about two dozen of the remaining prisoners. But it said the chief prosecutor left unclear why the rest face neither imminent freedom nor a day in court after as many as four years in custody.

Charges have been brought against only 10 of the approximately 490 alleged "enemy combatants" currently detained at the facility. None has been charged with a capital offense.

The U.S. plans to file charges against more Guantanamo detainees and will seek the death penalty in some cases, according to the top military prosecutor at the military base. But Air Force Col. Morris Davis declined to disclose details about plans to charge about two dozen detainees in addition to the 10 already charged.

The decision to release 141 detainees is the result of a yearlong review of their cases in which interrogators also determined that they could provide no further intelligence.

Since the U.S. started sending prisoners to Guantanamo in 2002, there have been increasingly shrill allegations from a variety of international legal and human rights groups that few of those being held were "terrorists ". The Pentagon 's own files suggest that the military made numerous mistakes in sending people to Guantanamo and detaining them there without charges or trials.

Many of these Pentagon "mistakes " have been held for close to five years. Some were not captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan, but kidnapped off the streets of Europe and various locations in the Middle East. Many were "sold " to U.S. authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan for bounties. Many others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

- Advertisement -
The fiercely nonpartisan National Journal magazine has reported that, "Notwithstanding Rumsfeld's description, the majority of (Guantanamo prisoners) was not caught by American soldiers on the battlefield. They came into American custody from third parties, mostly from Pakistan, some after targeted raids there, most after a dragnet for Arabs after 9/11. "

Nevertheless, all were categorized as "enemy combatants " with ties to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or other groups that support terrorism.

While observers believe the Pentagon may well have evidence that some of the prisoners at Guantanamo were Al-Qaeda operatives out to kill as many Americans as possible, in many other cases, the "evidence " is based on second, third and fourth-hand hearsay. In still others, it is clear that admissions of guilt have been obtained through cruel and inhumane interrogations that many say amount to torture.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

BUSH AT YEAR-END

Liberties Lost Since 9/11

The Silence of the Sheep

BAHRAIN: UNION LEADERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

Law Professors Outraged by Senate Vote on Indefinite Detention

Feel Safer Now?