Just Above Sunset
August 7, 2005 - Gitmo, Gutmo

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Odd front-page news at the end of the week:

Afghanistan Agrees To Accept Detainees
U.S. Negotiating Guantanamo Transfers
Josh White and Robin Wright, Washington Post, Friday, August 5, 2005; A01


The Bush administration is negotiating the transfer of nearly 70 percent of the detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to three countries as part of a plan, officials said, to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars.

U.S. officials announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to transfer most of its nationals to Kabul's "exclusive" control and custody. There are 110 Afghan detainees at Guantanamo and 350 more at the Bagram airfield near Kabul. Their transfers could begin in the next six months.

Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes, who led a U.S. delegation to the Middle East this week, said similar agreements are being pursued with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, whose nationals make up a significant percentage of the Guantanamo population. Prosper held talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday and Monday, but negotiations were cut off after the announcement of King Fahd's death.



By the numbers: send 129 Saudis and 107 Yemenis from Guantanamo to the custody of their home countries. If the U.S. government is able to arrange the transfer of detainees who came from all three countries, the population at the facility will drop by 68 percent, from 510 to 164.


"This is not an effort to shut down Guantanamo. Rather, the arrangement we have reached with the government of Afghanistan is the latest step in what has long been our policy - that we need to keep dangerous enemy combatants off the battlefield," Matthew Waxman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said shortly after leaving Kabul with Prosper. "We, the U.S., don't want to be the world's jailer. We think a more prudent course is to shift that burden onto our coalition partners."


Something is up.

And Bill O'Reilly will be ticked. We have over five hundred folks there, and most of them have been there for nearly four years. No charges. A bit of rough treatment, maybe abuse, maybe torture. To be fair, four of the five hundred have actually been accused of crimes. (See this in the Post.) Four military prosecutors - not defense guys, but prosecutors - threatened to quit because the who tribunal thing is, they say, rigged and pointless. (See this in the Wall Street Journal.) And the whole business there may be playing into the hands of the terrorists, who now use GITMO as a recruiting tool. Still O'Reilly says he's just kill them all: "I don’t give them any protection. I don’t feel sorry for them. In fact, I probably would have ordered their execution if I had the power." (Audio here and video here.)

It seems the administration isn't listening to Bill.

Over at Media in Trouble, this


… let's start with this grand article about the United States transferring the detainees from US custody to Afghanistan. this is obviously an attempt at some Copperfieldian (as in David) attempt at washing our hands of the whole torture ordeal without actually washing our hands of the whole torture ordeal. I never thought that the benefit of the Great War on Terror … would be that we could have surrogate prisons in which we can torture our uncharged prisoners of the aforementioned war with ever changing acronyms.

The georgiousity of the situation would make any neocon's lips wetter than a Burger King's mop at closing time. Let us jail folks without any kind of notice, charges, or legal basis, then once the press catches on (three years later) we can simply transfer them to our newly acquired country in the Middle East. So this was the point! The whole thing was not to democratize the middle east, not to eliminate a tyrant, not to find WMD's and not even to destroy terrorists wherever they may live. The point is now clear. In case Afghanistan didn't work out, we needed a plan B to put all our enemy combatants that though human the only right they deserve as a prisoner within our control is to not have their head chopped off. That would be barbaric.

So the article describes the wheeling and dealing going on to turn over as many unconstitutional torturees we can to the US's very own Australia.

… fear not people of the world. We shan't be soft on people whom we have tortured, secluded and even outright beat the living piss out of. We will just transfer them to another state that will do our bidding for us, thus making it legally impossible to connect our actions to those of our surrogates!


Buried somewhere in that awful prose is the idea that this is just a way to shift responsibility for all this to third parties we control - it's not just shifting prisoners.  Whatever happened, or happens now, isn't our fault.  We are just doing the right thing - a little late - but the right thing.  O'Reilly can buy a ticket to Kabul and indulge is his "executioner fantasies" there - he can slit throats until he passes out giggling in glee.  Those guys will help.  We can't let him fly down to Cuba and do that. I t would look bad.

Heck, he should be happy with this decision.  We'll see what he says.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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