Tuesday, 4 January 2005

Mo' Gitmo

Radley Balko points to a Telegraph article that indicates that the Bush administration is settling in for a long haul with the Gitmo detainees:

The Bush administration is drawing up a long-term plan for al-Qa’eda suspects at Guantanamo Bay, including building a prison where they could be held for the rest of their lives without ever appearing in a court of law.

Defence officials told the Washington Post that the Pentagon was preparing to ask Congress for $25 million for a 200-bed prison, known as Camp 6, to hold suspects it does not have enough evidence to convict.

Another proposal being discussed is transferring many Afghan, Yemeni and Saudi detainees – the majority of the 500 suspects at Guantanamo Bay – to new US-built prisons in their own countries.

Local officials would run the prisons but the US would monitor them for compliance with human rights standards.

The good news is that many in Congress aren’t exactly convinced this is a good idea:

Sen Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said: “It is a bad idea. We must have a very careful, constitutional look at this.”

Sen Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the armed services committee, said: “There must be some semblance of due process if you are going to detain people.”

If the administration is planning to come up with a constitutional and credible solution to the problem, it’s certainly not on display in this plan.


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I am wondering why the administration considers these guys to be particularly bad, as opposed to other belligerents. I’ve been thinking that they thought there was some actionable intelligence available, but it seems like they would have it by now. That would be a crappy reason for denying them POW status, but it would be understandable. I don’t get what’s going on here.

What I was trying to get at below, but not all that successfully, is that we could just hold them as POWs until hostilities cease in Afghanistan. Then we could simply sign an armistice agreement and turn them over to Afghanistan. When I saw that we are taking fewer prisoners than in the past, it made it less understandable.


Love the new subtitle, BTW!


Definitely quite perplexing, especially when you consider that military tribunals aren’t exactly known for their high standards of evidence; if there’s not enough evidence for a conviction in a military tribunal, there’s probably not enough evidence to support holding these guys in the first place.

The POW solution does seem at least intuitively appealing, particularly if these guys are getting handed over to the new Afghan government (hardly a hotbed of sympathy for al-Qaeda, unlike say the Saudis and Pakistanis).

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