Our good friend and ally

Yet more evidence that Guantanamo Bay is the “gulag of our times“:

“More than half of the terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay have not been accused of committing hostile acts against the United States or its allies, two of the detainees’ lawyers said in a report released Tuesday.

“Compiled from declassified Defense Department evaluations of the more than 500 detainees at the Cuba facility, the report says just 8 percent are listed as fighters for a terrorist group, while 30 percent are considered members of a terrorist group and the remaining 60 percent were just ‘associated with’ terrorists.

“The evaluations were completed as part of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals conducted during 2004 to determine if the prisoners were being correctly held as enemy combatants. So far just 10 of the detainees have been formally charged with crimes and are headed for military tribunals.

“According to the report, 55 percent of the detainees are informally accused of committing a hostile act. But the descriptions of their actions ranged from a high-ranking Taliban member who tortured and killed Afghan natives to people who possessed rifles, used a guest house or wore olive drab clothing.”

Remind me to watch people in “olive drab clothing.” One wonders where Australian captive David Hicks fits into the picture. His father, Terry, yesterday accused the US of holding his son as the “token white fella.”

In further Guantanamo revelations, a recent article in the National Journal provides “powerful evidence confirming what many of us have suspected for years”:

– 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% of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been al-Qaeda members.

– Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone al-Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the al-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. These locals had strong incentives to tar as terrorists any and all Arabs they could get their hands on as the Arabs fled war-torn Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002 – including noncombatant teachers and humanitarian workers.

– And the Bush administration has apparently made very little effort to corroborate the plausible claims of innocence detailed by many of the men who were handed over.

The military trials are a sham, based largely on guilt-by-association claims. Writer Stuart Taylor explains:

“The administration’s unspoken logic appears to be: Better to ruin the lives of 10 innocent men than to let one who might be a terrorist go free. This logic would be understandable if the end of protecting American lives justified any and all means, including the wrecking of many more innocent non-American lives”¦”

Such realities perfectly explain the cynicism towards the US in certain parts of the world. Some of us prefer to simply regard the US as a rogue state.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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