Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hundreds of Gitmo Detainees Transferred, Then Released

This is why the Bush administration has zero credibility when it argues that Gitmo detainees are dangerous, vicious terrorists; and that's why we can't allow them to appeal for release or give them legal rights or try them in U.S. federal courts, or God forbid, free them and shut down Guantanamo:

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.

Think about this as you read Tim Golden's NYT piece about the military's tightened restrictions policy for detainees still at Guantanamo. Pay special attention to comments like this one, from a high-ranking Guantanamo official:

The commander of the Guantanamo task force, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the tougher approach also reflected the changing nature of the prison population, and his conviction that all of those now held here are dangerous men. "They're all terrorists; they're all enemy combatants," Admiral Harris said in an interview.

He added, "I don't think there is such a thing as a medium-security terrorist."

Keep in mind that the hundreds of Gitmo detainees who have been shipped back to the Middle East and subsequently released were also considered to be "terrorists" and "enemy combatants" -- every single one of them. Most of these now-released detainees were held without charges or trial for very long periods of time -- up to three years in many cases. The remaining Gitmo detainees who Admiral Harris is so convinced are "all terrorists," haven't been charged with any crime or given trials, either. Their situation is not significantly different from any of the other detainees who are now back home with their families. Yet this Admiral Harris knows without a shadow of a doubt, that they are all guilty as hell -- specific charges, trial, evidence, conviction, are not necessary to know this.

Of course, that will change soon:

Next year, after the Defense Department finishes rewriting rules for the military tribunals that the Bush administration first established in November 2001, the intelligence agency's prisoners are to be charged with war crimes. The timetable for their prosecutions remains uncertain.

They will be charged with "war crimes," but without any evidence (the U.S. government is not obliged to share its evidence, if any; so for all practical purposes there is no evidence), without any rights of habeus corpus (the right of the accused to see the evidence against him so he can defend himself against the charges), and without any redress or right to appeal the government's decision.

It's as if Stalin's Soviet Union were prosecuting Nazi Germany at Nuremberg.

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