06 February 2006

Who Is In Guantanamo?

The administration hasn't been honest about who it has held at Guantanamo Bay. The National Journal magazine sums up some of the facts:

A high percentage, perhaps the majority, of the 500-odd men now held at Guantanamo were not captured on any battlefield, let alone on "the battlefield in Afghanistan" (as Bush asserted) while "trying to kill American forces" (as McClellan claimed).

Fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members.

Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans.

The majority were not captured by U.S. forces but rather handed over by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability. . . . [W]ell over half . . . are not even accused of fighting the United States or its allies on any battlefield in post-9/11 Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Indeed, only 35 percent of them . . . were seized in Afghanistan; 55 percent were picked up by Pakistanis in Pakistan. . . . The tribunal hearings, based largely on such guilt-by-association logic, have been travesties of unfairness. The detainees are presumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence -- without help from lawyers and without being permitted to know the details and sources of the evidence against them. This evidence is almost entirely hearsay from people without firsthand knowledge and statements from other detainees desperate to satisfy their brutally coercive interrogators. One file says, "Admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden," based on an interrogation in which the detainee -- while being pressed to "admit" this, despite his denials -- finally said in disgust, "OK, I knew him; whatever you want." . . . . [Many] detainees who had no information -- because they had no involvement in or knowledge of terrorism -- have been put through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions" in a systematic effort to break their wills that is "tantamount to torture," the International Committee of the Red Cross complained in a confidential report to the government, excerpts of which The New York Times obtained in November 2004.

Guantanamo Bay is un-American. George W. Bush, and those who helped him set into motion the abusive techniques that his administration has used have tarnished our nation, damaged our national security and committed war crimes.

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