December 17, 2006
|AP: Hundreds Of Gitmo Prisoners Found Guiltless||9/11, "War On Terror" Rights, Law|
The Bush administration would have us believe that the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay are so dangerous, so vicious, that the extraordinary conditions of their treatment are both justifiable and necessary. AP, however, found that when prisoners from Gitmo were released into the custody of other nations, the great majority were determined to be guilty of nothing and freed. Excerpts:
The Pentagon called them "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth," sweeping them up after Sept. 11 and hauling them in chains to a U.S. military prison in southeastern Cuba.
Since then, hundreds of the men have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to other countries, many of them for "continued detention."
And then set free.
Decisions by more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, Europe and South Asia to release the former detainees raise questions about whether they were really as dangerous as the United States claimed, or whether some of America's staunchest allies have set terrorists and militants free. [...]
[T]hrough interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:
Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.
Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals — one in Kuwait, one in Spain — initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.
The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.
At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."
Some former detainees say they never intended to harm the United States and are bitter.
"I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory," said Badarzaman Badar, an Afghan who was freed in Pakistan. "It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days." [...]
When four Britons were sent home from Guantanamo in January 2005, Britain said it would detain and investigate them — then released them after only 18 hours. Five Britons repatriated earlier were also rapidly released with no charges.
Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish citizen, was also quickly freed when he was flown to Germany in August, bound hand and foot, after more than four years at Guantanamo.
U.S. officials maintained he was a member of al-Qaida, based on what they said was secret evidence. But his New Jersey-based lawyer, Baher Azmy, said he was shown the classified evidence and was shocked to find how unpersuasive it was.
"It contains five or six statements exonerating him," Azmy said. [Emphasis added]
As a measure of how disgustingly corrupt US governance has become, consider how far-fetched it now seems to imagine the US government admitting culpability and making any sort of apology to the hundreds of innocent people it has held at Guantanamo without charge or trial, for years. Never happen.
The corrupting impact trickles down. The message: tag someone a "terrorist" and customary legal procedure can be tossed aside. Who's a terrorist? All sorts of protestors and activists, for one. But it doesn't stop there. The Oregon legislature, for example, has repeatedly considered legislation that would make it a crime of terrorism, punishable by life in prison, to "disrupt commerce." Tom Paine spins in his grave.
The Oregon bill is a shock. I recently learned that boycotting is now illegal, has been for some time. If bills like this one start becoming laws, not only will you not be able to speak out against products, you could forced to participate in the economy. Even a bad lawyer could make the case that if you don't participate in the economy you're disrupting commerce.
Posted by: Jeff at December 17, 2006 10:41 PM