Guantanemo Bay Revisited...

…this started out in my head as a Great Debate, but after a few minutes of typing, I realized there wasn’t much to debate. I first posted about Guantanemo Bay back in 2004. I followed that up a few weeks ago with this great debate thread that argued the way the US was conducting its War on Terror was hurting, not helping the global fight against terrorism. Central to my arguement was the amount of “intelligence noise” that would be generated by innocent or low-priority detainees. I have always argued that the methods used to arrest, assess then send the prisoners sent to Guantanemo were flawed at practically every stage.

Professor Mark Denbeaux, of Seton Hall University School of Law (and Counsel to two Guantanamo detainees) along with several colleagues have realeased a report that has analysed the publicly available data, including all of the unclassified Combatant Status Review Tribunals for all of the remaining 517 detainees. Before cry’s of bias ring out, the raw data is out there on the net, and if you would like to dispute the findings, feel free to do your own analysis.
Some of the conclusions from the report:

I remember the many debates, like in this thread, where the old arguements over whether or not the Geneva Conventions applied or not. I remember President Bush calling those locked up as “the baddest of the bad.” The documents show that some detainees are there on evidence as flimsy as the type of watch they wear. People that were forced into service for the Taliban are treated the same way as the worst Al-Quaeda suspects…

Here is the complete record for a Taliban conscript:

…a cook’s assistant who was forced into the Taliban Army and fled from a Taliban Camp is deemed to be an illegal combatant who took up arms against US troops. The mind boggles.

The reports authors conclude that the majority of Taliban at Guantanemo were forced conscripts. “There was a Health Minister, Governor of the State Bank, an Attorney General, an Education Minister, and an Anti-Drug Control Force. Each city had a mayor, chief of police, and senior administrators. None of these individuals are at Guantanamo Bay.”

…other gems from the report:

…I’ve read many of the individual cases, and the lack of evidence is disturbing, but not surprising. Guantanemo Bay was a stupid idea concieved by stupid people, that has done absolutely nothing but hurt the global war on terrorism. There is no doubt there are some bad people locked up there, and the report concludes that for those people (About 11%) the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

For the rest? Well, over 80% of them weren’t captured on the battlefields fighting US troops. That’s over 30% more than I had estimated in previous threads. They were handed over by Pakistani or Northern Alliance Troops for a myriad of reasons, including large bounty payments. The evidence against them is weak. And while the Bush Administration is in place, don’t expect much change to happen at Guantanemo Bay.

I’m not a big ranter, so my BBQ rant does need a little bit of help from fellow dopers…I’m loathe to throw in the obligatory “@# Bush!” that it seems this thread requires, so I hope someone throws in the nessecery invectives.

The real scarey thing for me is that Guantanemo Bay is the prison run by the US for TWAT detainees that we know the most about. We have little information about Bagram. Next to nothing on Abu Gharib or Baghadad Airport. Tens of thousands of people detained in Iraq using the same methodoloy as Guantanemo and worse. And somehow, this “shotgun” approach is supposed to make the world a safer place. I think that it makes many Americans “feel” safer, as evidenced by some of the postings on this very board. But the long term effect? Less co-operation, more bounty hunting, more anger, poor intelligence, and a less safe world. And I’ve been typing a rant about Guantanemo Bay for the last couple of hours and I haven’t even mentioned the alleged abuses going on there, but thats another thread…

I strongly believe that Guantanamo Bay is a huge mistake, not in that it exists, but in how it’s being run. The people there should be tried and be either released if acquitted or further imprisoned or shot if found guilty. And I don’t really buy the “it’s making terrorism worse” argument either, the U.S. (and the entire west as well, although most of the west has a huge capacity to deny it) is at WAR with militant branches of a religion that murders innocents, burns embassies and riots in the streets simply because someone publishes a couple of cartoons they don’t like, there’s no shortage of people for terrorist cells to recruit no matter what the U.S. does or doesn’t do. I do wonder, however, what makes you so sure the guy claiming to be a cook’s assistant was actually a cook’s assistant? If I was a terrorist, and I got caught by coalition forces, especially in an area of the world where identities are a lot more fluid than they are here, I’d be screaming “No! Not me! I’m just a cook, you got the wrong man!” too. A lot of people seem to have the tendency to take any accused terrorist at their word, yet at the same time disbelieve anything that the U.S. says, no matter what evidence they have. That always puzzled me.*

*The above is not meant to dismiss legitimate problems at GB, those should be dealt with, and as I said the people there should be tried rather than detained indefinitely.

Well, if we didn’t want Guantanamo Bay to exist, we’d have to move a lot of earth to fill the bay in.

I’ll give you props for acknowledging this much.

The thing is, as I understand it, this is the U.S. evidence. This is what we’ve got on the guy.

But let’s suppose he was a soldier in the Taliban army, rather than a cook. So what? We may not have recognized them as the legit government of Afghanistan, thank goodness, but they WERE such government as the country had. They had the power to conscript. Taliban =/= al-Qaeda.


Please explain how the detention without trial for an inderterminate period of time, based on evidence that the US itself finds weak and flimsy is making anyone in the world safer from terrorism.

Those 11% have been replaced a thousandfold by the relatives of those held who are detained under false or extremely shaky grounds.

The US says it has declared war on terrorism, in fact it has declared war on human rights, your rights included.

You can argue that the rights of victims of terrorism count as much and more thant the terrorists, but, the prblem is that the overwhelming majority of those detained and tortured are not terrorists.

If you think it is not making the war on terrorism worse, please explain how it is being effective at reducing it, and if it is broadly neutral, neither making it worse, nor making it better, then how can it be justified at all ?

As for believing what the US says, why the hell should we ?

The list of lies for war in Iraq is long, the obvious cover ups about the Abu-ghraif torture are apparent, why have no coomaders or senior officers been taken to task, and why has the US government kept so much material that proves the abuse covered up for so long ?

This is the torture that we know about, how about themurder of an Iraqi genreal under torture, his tormentor recieved a punishment that was simply and insult to humanity.
Could it be that the person was part of an interrogation section(which he was) and he was employing procedures and tortures that had become common practice ?

There is absolutely no pressing reason to believe the US at all, and verymany reasons to discard the words of its leaders.

In many parts of the world, the US administration has become a byword for inhumanity, duplicity, deception, torture and murder.

I seriously doubt that most of the non US Western world thinks that the US is snowy white, quite frankly the way the US has behaved in Iraq and elswhere is an embarrassment to the word Democracy.

How do you imagine the US is viewed in Pakistan, Indonesia, Algeria, Palestine, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and virtuallt every other Arabic nation ?

If I seem dissappointed in the falling standards of the US, think how much moreso these nations are, and what a fertile ground for recruitment they have become.
Think about how disaffected Moslems in the US and Europe feel, because those latter are possibly the most dangerous threat to our society there is, since they know our society and its ways all too well.

…and then, after all that, tell me how Guantanamo Bay has helped to improve your personal security.

…sure. And you have evidence that the riots and the burning down of the embassies would have happened without the US led war on terror, don’t you? But the “hearts and minds” arguement isn’t really one that I advance as primary in my case that the US War on Terror has made things worse. I advance my case in this thread:

…which argues that the “shotgun” approach to gathering detainees has led to a massive commitment in resources into follies like Guantanemo Bay for little to no reward. In the meantime the 9/11 Commission has determined that many of its reccomendations have not been carried out. Katrina showed that there is still massive need to get different agencies and government bodies to talk to each other.

How did these people end up in custody? Only about 25 of the 517 detainees were captured directly by US forces. That figure would include the five that were taken from Bosnia and the two Brit’s taken from Gambia. So as few as 20 people were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan in battle against US forces. For the last three years the administration has been dishing out the same rhetoric: “the badest of the bad, captured on the battlefields, terrorists, etc…” Yet 7% of detainees are listed as either Taliban or Al-Quaeda. 10% have an “unidentified” affiliation. 32% are determined by the CSRT to be Al-Quada, and the report disputes that determination. Our “cook” was determined to be Taliban, yet as the report also points out, there is no Taliban Mayors, no police chiefs, and no senior administration officials at Guantanemo. Top suspects, like Omar al-Faruq (alleged head of Al-Quada operations in Southeast Asia) were held in Afghanistan, where he gained the opportunity to escape. What was Camp X-ray built for again?

I never made that determination. That was made by the Combatant Status Tribunal. I posted the total of the unclassified evidence against him. For your benefit, I will post it again:

Note the bolded parts. After three years in captivity, that is the strongest evidence that they had on this prisoner. No evidence he picked up a gun. No evidence he "conspired with anyone else. No, the evidence that he “engaged in hostilities” was that the detainee fled from Narim and then surrendered to the Northern Alliance. Surely you can see how weak that is? Are you surprised the determinations of U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green, who detemined a couple of weeks ago:

Sure. And if you were a cook, and you were the wrong man, you would be sceaming exactly the same thing as the terrorist. And as the CSRT points out, he was a cook. Which makes your arguement, with all due respect, kind of old. We’ve had this debate before-many times. We haven’t had the analysis before. Have you read the report? Did you look at the raw data?

…which is why I went to the trouble of linking to the first ever report to make an indepth analysis of the evidence for the 517 detainees still held at Guantanemo. Did you bother to read it? I made no “knee jerk” reaction, I followed the evidence. Please don’t throw down arguements that I never made and expect me to debate them with you. What are your thoughts on the report?

I need some help to wrap my mind about the concept of throwing a person in prison for the brand of watch it uses, anyone?; no really, what gives? :dubious:

:rolleyes: It ain’t a war. It’s a criminal problem, not a military problem. Al-Qaeda can no more declare or make war on the U.S. than could the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Weathermen, or the Montana Militia.

You may be at war with them but the fact of the matter is the people you are fighting do not go back to barracks at night. They go back to communities and hide within them.

While falsely imprisoning people will not create many actual frontline fighters it does help to reinforce the propaganda of the insurgents, fighting a cruel and oppressive super power etc. Here in Ireland the UK government learnt a hard lesson when they interned people without charge or trial. It helped convinced the nationalist people in the north that there was a need to fight perceived injustices. The IRA and others gained a huge foothold in areas and the people of NI and Britain paid a high price for their reactionary leaders’ mistakes. The many actions of the IRA and the mayhem and death they caused didn’t really effect their popularity BTW. An angry public can rationalise all types of horrors.

A terrorist organisation needs some public support to keep going. If you help the public turn against you by actions that are clearly unjust you are helping the terrorists in a very real way.

I don’t understand how I could have stated it any more clearly.

And yet some of you are arguing with me that detaining people indefinitely in Camp X-Ray is wrong. I started my post with that premise, yet you’re still arguing about it. Weird.

But the whole reason Camp X-Ray exists is because it allows them to detain people indefinitely. If you want to actually give them legal rights, you can detain them on US soil.

…you indeed made that initial statement. I agreed with that one, and chose not to comment on it. I disagreed strongly with your other statements, and feel I quite fairly rebutted them. Whats your problem with that?

You mean something like “The people there should be tried and be either released if acquitted or further imprisoned or shot if found guilty.”?

I don’t understand how my statement fails to address the problem. I advocate putting the detainees on trial. At a trial, they would either be proven guilty or shown to be innocent. I thought it went without saying that the innocent would be set free. Doesn’t that solve everything you brought up?

No, I meant the part where you said “I strongly believe that Guantanamo Bay is a huge mistake, not in that it exists …” (italics mine). You can’t seperate the indefinite detentions and lack of legal status from Guantanamo Bay. It’s an essential part of it–it’s why it exists. Guantanamo Bay was chosen as the location because they knew it was a place where they could get away with the shit they’ve gotten away with.

It’s sort of like saying ‘I think the Gulags were a huge mistake, not in that they existed, but in that they were used to brutally squash political dissent.’

Not at all. There is a need for a place to imprison suspected terrorists before trial and convicted terrorists afterwards. I’m quite happy with that place being 90 miles off our shores rather than in suburban Los Angeles.

Would you rather a new facility be constructed 90 miles off shore, where legal representation and civilian oversight is impossible, or would you rather an existing supermax prison be used, which would be cheaper, just as secure, and would allow easier access to the inmates?

s/impossible/dificult or impossible/

…sure. But how about a clarification on your position.

Since Camp X-Ray and Camp-Delta have been around, the US have detained over 700 people at Guantanemo Bay. There are 517 there now. According to the report, only about twenty of them have hard evidence against them. Which means that the US has detained without charge 700 people, put them in stress positions, threatened their execution, allegedly beat them, threatened them with dogs, left people tied up for over 24 hours in stifling hot conditions to soil themselves, and put them through hundreds of interogations. In June of 2004 the US Department of Defense issued the statement:

Now you tell me. You’ve read the report, you’ve seen the raw data that the reports were based on. Your stated conclusion? " And I don’t really buy the “it’s making terrorism worse” argument either" You stand by that? You don’t see how the actionable intelligence gained from non-high value targets, from people who may very well be innocent, from the greater than 80% of people locked up at Camp X-ray or Camp Delta, has harmed the alleged war? You talk about the recent cartoon riots, and point out that " there’s no shortage of people for terrorist cells to recruit no matter what the U.S. does or doesn’t do." That wasn’t my point I was addressing, which I clarified with my next post, which you then ignored.

You then talk about the “baker”, making a point that has been made in every thread on this topic since TWAT started. You then admitted you were puzzled by people who “have the tendency to take any accused terrorist at their word, yet at the same time disbelieve anything that the U.S. says, no matter what evidence they have.” That statement puzzled me, because my OP was all about the evidence. There has never been any hard evidence supporting the US’s position on the detainee’s at Guantanemo. If you want to back up your comments, show it to me. It also has never been the general consensus that people believe “the terrorist” before the US. The “terrorist’s” are lying, murderous scum, and if we know who they are, then there is no way we would accept their word for it. The evidence does not support the President Bush’s contention that Guantanemo Bay is populated by the “baddest of the bad”.

Sure, you dropped a nice disclaimer onto your post that you could point to when people started to argue the points you made. You may have well have posted “I’m not racist, but…” for all the relevance your disclaimer had with the rest of your post…

Ummm…Timex is a big contributor to the GOP? ;j


Fair enough, I guess it defies any rational explanation.