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.