Friday, January 29, 2010

Guantanamo: 50 Prisoners to be Held Forever

So McClatchy reports:

The review has angered human rights advocates, however, by concluding that "roughly" 50 of the detainees should be held indefinitely, even though there isn't enough valid evidence to prosecute them.

Only 35 of the men should face trial, either in civilian or military courts, the review concluded. That's far fewer than the 60 or 70 cases that the Pentagon's chief prosecutor has said his unit is preparing to try before military commissions.

. . .

The decision to hold as many as 50 detainees without charges rankled human right advocates, and it marks a turnabout for an administration that criticized the Bush administration for its indefinite-detention regime.

Like Bush, Obama has invoked Congress' authority to wage war and take prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as legal justification for holding the 50. A key distinction: The Obama administration has embraced federal court review — called habeas corpus — to examine the intelligence agencies' justification for holding the men, while the Bush administration fought the right of Guantanamo detainees to sue for their freedom, twice to the U.S. Supreme Court, and lost.

The problem, of course, is that these fifty people, or however many it ends up being, all have some evidence against them, but either that evidence was gained through torture (and thus inadmissible in civilian court), or the prisoners themselves were tortured (and thus prosecution would be extremely difficult).

For my part, the answer is simple: make the point that since the Bush administration ordered torture and spoiled the case- in the same way Bush administration prosecutors ruined the corruption case against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens- we can't try or hold these prisoners; let them go, and blame Bush and Cheney.

Unfortunately, Obama has closed the door on blaming Bush for anything, and indeed for acknowledging that torture was anything other than "a policy difference." He wants torture to be a closed subject, which means that he doesn't dare reopen it by admitting that he can't prosecute these people because of it.

So, instead, he's going to turn his back on yet another campaign promise- the promise to restore habeas corpus. He's going to hold these prisoners "indefinitely." Since there's no real hope that conditions will change so that either they will be harmless or that they can be justly prosecuted, that amounts to "forever."

No lawyers, no challenging their imprisonment, no contact with relatives, nothing. Just four walls, forever.

To any of you who say, "And good job, too- those Guantanamo prisoners are the worst of the worst!", I say: you've drunk Cheney's Kool-Aid. The facts are in the article linked above:

The prison camp has held about 770 prisoners since it opened eight years ago . . . Nearly 580 have been released over the years, according to the official. "More than 530" of those were released during the administration of President George W. Bush, the official said.

So, more than three-quarters of Guantanamo prisoners were completely innocent of anything. And even Bush's corrupt cronies were forced to admit this and release them.

Obviously justice has not been done here- not to those released, and not to those still held.

And equally obviously, Obama is unwilling to do justice now... because doing so would open a subject he desperately wants kept silent.

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