So what [I]should [/I] we do with the Gitmo detainees?

An offshoot of this thread…from the Pit…

So I get the general consensus on the board is that the detainees are being mistreated and that Gitmo is an embarassment and should be closed. Hell even some Republican Senators say so…

So anyway, what do you who feel this way think we should do with the current residents of Gitmo?

Charge them and put them on trial.

Pretty much. Their status needs to be resolved one way or the other, charges need to be brought and some kind of trial (probably military) needs to be done…and they need to be sentenced, shot or released as their crimes (or innocents) warrants.


I’ve always thought the whole ‘enemy combatant’ thing was ridiculous and has made a complete travesty of our supposedly free and open society. This many years in, I find it hard to believe that there is any significant military value left in holding all these people, whoever they are, incommunicado for all eternity, and I firmly believe that some of them, no matter how small a percentage, are neither actual combatants nor guilty of any particular crime; that under the current system there seems to be no method other than an arbitrary military decision to release them, and no independent oversight of the process.

No doubt many if not most are guilty of something, but I am unswayed by the argument many seem to use that these people are somehow worse, more evil, more dangerous, more deserving of eternal punishment than anyone else who may ever have declared themselves an enemy of the US. If they really are such heinous criminals, the correct response all along should have been to hold them as criminals, under normal US rules of justice, or, if one prefers, under a fixed, longer term (say one year) of investigation, then bring them to trial.

Whatever goals this country may have had for taking these people prisoner in the first place, little or no thought seems to have been given to the notion that, as in any mass sweep, some of the persons swept up are, factually, innocent. This episode has been a stain on this country’s reputation and will remain so for decades.

So, there’s my opinion: try those worth trying, show cause to the public that some useful miltary intelligence remains to be gleaned from those not tried, let the rest go.

Agreed. Once it’s determined that they have told us everything of value, they need to be charged and punished. I would not recommend execution, however. It would be better to imprison them for life.

The ones you let go will return to haunt us. If we have captured them on the battlefield we need to hold them indefinitely once they are convicted. There is no country to repatriate them to.

All that interrogation must not be very good, if we are releasing the ones who turn around and bite us.

Uh, what do you propose to do with the ones that are not convicted? This is a fair trial, right?

I’m not a military lawyer, but as I understand it, the Bush Admin wants them tried (if at all) in a sort of military tribunal where they would be presumed guilty, not innocent. (I got that from the documentary Unconstitutional Anybody know more about this?

Whatever we do, we need to do it better.

Much of the abuse that has been reported is not official torture, it seems to unofficial brutality. All of us can agreed at least some guard getting his rocks off is unhelpful and unprofessional.

Much of this is rooted in the lack of planning that went into this war. Much more is rooted in the brutality American soldiers, American young people, are capable of when not fully supervised. That is scary as all get-out.

Problem seems to be more the ‘if at all’ than trying them with a military tribunal, but I’ll await the verdict from our lawyer types. Afaik, the US could try them with out violating the constitution OR international law (at least the letter of the law) with a fully empowered US military tribunal, if we dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s (i.e. gave them proper representation)…though I’m sure there would be an uproar. I don’t think this is why Bush et al are dragging their feet though…I think they WANT to keep the prisoners status in question and not to proceed.


That would raise jurisdictional issues. An American civilian criminal court (state or federal) could try a detainee only if there were evidence he committed or conspired to commit a specific crime on American soil. A military tribunal (analogous the Nuremburg court) might try him for war crimes or crimes against humanity – but would mere membership in Al Qaeda or the Taliban rise to that level, by the standards of international law? The problem is, we as ordinary citizens don’t know how to begin to answer these questions because we don’t know what, if anything, the government has got on any of these detainees, because it has kept that information secret – from us, and, for all we know, from the detainees themselves.

Which begs the question, why? Of what practical use are these prisoners to them?

What do you mean? Every one of them has a country of origin.

Yeah, I agree. Ruling out for a moment ‘because they are fucking idiots’, my guess would be because they suspect most of them of being guilty…and don’t have anything solid to back that up so they know if they take them to trial (and contrary to what seems to be the popular opinion, our ‘military tribunals’ are pretty damn fair), most of them will be let go. My second thought would be to continue to attempt to extract information from them (sickening, but probably realistic).


Haven’t most of these guys been locked up since the Afghan war ended? If they haven’t spilled their guts yet, they ain’t never gonna. Maybe because they got nothing to tell.

Enable them to give testimony in the war crimes trials of the persons who have ordered and implemented their unlawful imprisonment and torture.

This is the crux of the problem, and probably accounts for why they have not, nor will they ever, be put on trial. The military and intelligence communities don’t want to be put in the position of having to answer questions from the defense about national security issues.

I think they should be charged and tried; since that won’t happen, they should be released. Anything less really strains our credibility as the guardians of freedom and democracy in the world.

Afaik, nearly all of them are former Taliban types…with a sprinkling of AQ and out and out innocent farmers who were probably in the wrong place at the wrong time (though I think most of these have been released now). What could they tell us still? Well, the Taliban types MIGHT still know something important about the remnant Taliban command structure in Afghanistan…where weapons caches are, how they are organized, perhaps their contingency plans, leadership, etc. Doubtful as, again afaik, most of these are spear carrier kind of guys who wouldn’t know dick. As for the AQ types, they probably would still have info that would be relevant about how their cell was organized, their cut outs, operations parameters, stuff like that. The farmers might know how to grow poppy I suppose.

Which is why I’m more inclined to lean towards either ‘Bush et al are fucking idiots’, or my first explaination…namely that the military at Gitmo THINK most of these folks are guilty, but they don’t have enough on them to actually take them to trial and get a conviction. So, instead of taking the chance and letting them go (and maybe turning loose a bunch of potential killers), they want to just wave their hands an dither about it…and hope it all just goes away. Or at least keeps them out of circulation as long as possible.

Just my guess FWIW.


With regard to the Taliban prisoners, couldn’t we simply decide that we’re not going to hold it against them that their government was too damned cheap to buy them proper uniforms, declare them prisoners of war, treat them as such, and enter into negotiations with the legitimate government of Afghanistan to have them repatriated? If we promised president Karzai a shiny new $30,000,000 prison facility like that planned for Guantanamo I’m sure he’d jump at the chance. These mostly low value prisoners would thus be out of our hair. The Afghans could keep them a while, separate the riff from the raff, apply local cultural norms, and let the not-so-baddies go; a few a time. Karzai would pick up local political points for being a reasonable man, and the US could prod him every once in a while for acting a bit too hastily. Everyone wins.

It really **is **that simple.

I hear warnings that some of them, if released, will take up arms again against the US. There are only about 500 prisoners in Gitmo. If every one was released and returned to the battlefield, they’d be a drop in the ocean of radical Muslims/Arabs who want to fight the US. But as prisoners in undetermined legal status, they serve as a constant recruiting tool for who knows how many new fighters.

Whatever info they may have is about 3 yrs old. Surely we’ve extracted most of the useful info by now.

Charge them and put them on trial.