Tuesday, March 07, 2006
WHEN YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN
* updated *
housands of transcripted interviews with Guantanamo detainees were made public last week, giving rise to the news that some prisoners just don't want to go home:
Inmates have told military tribunals they worry about reprisals from militants who will suspect them of cooperating with U.S. authorities in its war on terror. Others say their own governments may target them for reasons that have nothing to do with why they were taken to Guantanamo Bay in the first place.Leave room for dissidents and defections, as we should always do for any totalitarian regime. Many of the detainees were wrongly swept up to begin with -- hundreds have been released and more are planned, which makes the transcripts so timely. They're the words of people who may have already been, or about to be, returned to their home countries.
A man from Syria who was detained along with his father pleaded with the tribunal for help getting them political asylum — in any country that will take them.
Like the Uighur prisoners in the same article, who would be returned to a China which is unwilling to promise not to torture them. More accurately, they won't promise not to torture transferred prisoners, which is why there haven't been any. They don't say anything about "free" citizens. The Uighurs are not being transferred, they're to be released as "no longer enemy combatants." They would walk off the plane, and then what? No promises!
In the case of one group of prisoners, Muslims from western China known as Uighurs, the U.S. has struggled to find a solution.I saw a quote somewhere yesterday (can't track it down just now), that a Guantanamo detainee had been describing how comfortable he was in his quarters, how good the food and drink ("... and the fruit juice!"). There will be lots of such stuff getting pulled out of these files, as citizen investigators continue poring through them. Distributed intel. Army of Davids, whatever. While that percolates, a Euro security expert visited Guantanamo and pronounced it better than Belgian prisons. Though to be fair, he went on to say that being stuck there is mental torture in itself. But still... "a model prison," while not "idyllic," exceeds normal Euro standards and regulatory guidelines.
A military tribunal has determined that five are "no longer enemy combatants" and can be released from Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. agrees they could face persecution back in China but so far has not found a third country to take them.
For now, the Uighurs are being kept at Camp Iguana, a privileged section of the prison with televisions, stereos and a view of the Caribbean.
A Uighur told a military tribunal that he feared going back to China so much, he considered trying to convince the panel that he was guilty, according to a hearing transcript.
"If I am sent back to China, they will torture me really bad," said the man, whose name did not appear in the transcript. "They will use dogs. They will pull out my nails."
Two of the Uighurs are appealing a federal judge's rejection of their request to be released in the United States, where a family in the Washington suburbs has offered to take them in.
"Home is China, and in China you disappear into a dungeon and no one ever hears from you again," said their lawyer, Sabin Willett. "These guys are not a risk to anyone. They should be released here."
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison are treated better than in Belgian jails, an expert for Europe's biggest security organization said on Monday after a visit to the controversial U.S. detention center.Double Wai Allahpundit.
UPDATE: Here's that quote I didn't have to hand yesterday, cited here by Scott Burgess at the The Daily Ablution. Abdul Hakim Bukhary testifies at his review board hearing:
"Prisoners here are in paradise. American people are very good. Really. They give us three meals, juice, fruit and everything! My God! Here they [i.e. the Arab detainees] bother me everyday, every time. Now about 30 months to this day, they bother me. They call me a hypocrite. They call me a spy. You have to say, 'thank God!' I thank you for America! If you are in a Taliban prison, they do not treat you well. Here we are in paradise. It is 100% paradise. Yes, really. Thank you!"Apparently these are scanned documents, meaning that they can't be text searched. So lots of people besides Burgess and a slew of volunteers coordinating through Captain's Quarters are plowing through them -- and you can too! They're freely available for download right here.
In fact, there are some horrible examples of mistreatment already coming out of these testimonies. But while I would agree that having to watch one's enemy eat one's peanut butter before one's own eyes must by it's very nature be an extremely traumatising experience, and being directed to pray in the direction of Washington DC rather than Mecca ("willfully misdirected ... to pray north") was a juvenile prank which may ruin somebody's chances at Eternal Paradise, they don't seem to quite reach the level of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. But maybe that's just me. On the other hand, if you're the same sort of jihadi as those who riot and kill for a cartoon, then that peanut butter thing would probably really make you mad.