Friday, February 24, 2006

Guantanamo Detainees: The Facts

In a prior post, I had mentioned government statistics that suggested that less than half of Guantanamo Bay detainees likely committed "hostile" acts against the United States, and that about 5% had Al Qaeda ties.

I couldn't find exactly what government documents indicated this until I read an editorial in the Times Union yesterday that identified a source, a pretty good one.

On February 8th, Mark Denbeaux, a Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, and and Joshua Denbeaux, a lawyer, along with several of Mark Denbeaux's students analyzed Combatant Status Review Board Letters to determine how many of Guantanamo Bay's prisoners are likely terrorists and enemy combatants against the United States.

The report (A PDF Document) indicated that 55% of Gitmo prisoners likely did not commit hostile acts. Hostile acts, was defined as being as broad as beign "associated with" a terrorist group, fleeing a camp that had been bombed, or even wearing a Casio watch (those watches being possible to convert into remote bomb triggers).

At least eighty-six percent of the detainees were NOT captured by the United States (and it may be as high as 93%). Instead, they were captured either by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over the the United States, often for substantial payment. A flyer distributed in Afghanistan, for example, declares: "Get wealth and power beyond your dreams . . . . You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taliban forced catch al-Qaida and Taliban murders. This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life . . ." (p. 14). This raises real concerns about the motives people had for turning in people who were subsequently handed over to the United States, and the quality of the evidence that such people were engaged in hostile acts.

Even more interesting and distressing is that over 25 of the detainees are Uighers, Chinese Mulsims who fled China for Afghanistan fleeing religious persecution. After the United States began bombing Afghanistan, they then fled to Pakstan, where they were captured by bounty hunters and turned over to the United States. These men have been deemed by the military to NOT be enemy combatants. Yet, they remain detained.

Lest one think this is just a bunch of lefty lawyers who are making up numbers about the Gitmo detainees, the data comes from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals that were conducted in 2004 by the military. These tribunals were used to determine "enemy combatant" status for the detainees.

The authors of the report write "Although the Government's public position is that these detainees are 'the worst of the worst' . . . the data demonstrates that the Government has already concluded that a majority of those who continue to be detained at Guantanamo have no history of any 3(b) hostile act against the United States or its allies" (p. 9).

After four years of detention it is high time that another review be conducted to earnestly determine who engaged in hostile acts against us. The rest should go free.

1 comment:

Rod Carveth said...

Jen,

Here's an article from National Journal that gives even more insight into this tragedy.

http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0203nj4.htm

The Seton Hall report did get a bit of initial coverage by the LATimes, but there's been very little follow-up coverage. That's what happens when the media gets fixated on a relatively minor event like the VP shooting accident (though it has given rise to sayings like "Guns don't kill people. Dick Cheney kills people) and forgets the big picture.