Sunday, 2 January 2005

The Gitmo Detainees

We’re in a bit of a box with the Gitmo detainees. [Their ambiguous status is] [n]ot of our own making, to be sure, but we are left to deal with it. Jeralyn wants to see all of them released, though given the recidivism rates of the others that have been released, it seems like a bad idea. We release these guys, they perpetrate acts of terror and we send the military after them. These guys are a bunch of fucking skulkers to begin with—they don’t wear unforms and hide among civilians—which will result in further civilian deaths either from their acts or our response to their acts. Probably both. I doubt this is what Jeralyn really wants. And no, sitting back and taking it, or making excuses for future acts of violence, is not an option.

Sean is less sympathetic to their ordeal. He suggests we definitely hold them, and if the title to his post can be believed, summary executions would be OK as well.

There could be a middle ground. We could simply concede that they are POWs—even though they are in violation of the Geneva Conventions—and tell them that they will be released when hostilities have ceased in Afghanistan. That alone will take a decade or more and, once the entire country has been secured, we can turn them over to the government of Afghanistan. Fewer civilians will die—ours and theirs—and we’ve stuck to the letter of the conventions, even if it ambiguous.

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.