Tuesday, May 16, 2006

He's Makin' A List, Checkin' It Twice

Image: Original Painting, "Rummy's Fiesta," Used by Permission of the Artist, Mark Bryan

Rummy-clause is comin' to town, or something like that. And he can't count that good. Be willing to overlook the fact that some some names seem to be missing.

News today that, after a threat to sue made by the Associated Press over a Freedom of Information Act that the Department of Defense just lost, or ignored, and years since "Gitmo" first started warehousing & mistreating prisoners, the Department of Defense has finally released a full list of the names of prisoners held there.

Excepting some.

"After years of secrecy, the Pentagon has disclosed the names, ages and home countries of everyone held at the isolated Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in southeastern Cuba as a suspect in the U.S.-led war on terror.

"None of the most notorious terrorist suspects was included in the list, raising questions about their whereabouts.

"The U.S. says it has held 759 males, ranging from teenagers to older than 70, from more than 40 countries, according to the list released late Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press.
"While the list includes the 10 detainees who have been charged with crimes, it doesn't include alleged Sept. 11 plotters Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh — whose whereabouts remain secret.
"Lawyers and other advocates will be able to use the new list to track who has been held at the base and find former detainees to help investigate allegations of abuse, Patel said.

"The Pentagon released the list while denying the AP access to other information about the detainees, most of whom were held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

"The handover marks the first time that everyone who has been held by the Defense Department at Guantanamo Bay has been identified, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Last month, the military released the names of 558 detainees, also in response to an AP lawsuit.

"The names of all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay were previously kept classified because of 'the security operation as well as the intelligence operation that takes place down there,' said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Ya, sure, you betcha, torture can legitimately be termed a "security operation."

"The new list, when compared to the one from April, shows the Pentagon released many Afghans who were swept up early in the war. More than 90 were transferred out of Guantanamo between January 2002 and the summer of 2004.

"Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, believes U.S. officials are trying to deflect international criticism of Guantanamo Bay by gradually moving out detainees.

"'They are trying to slowly let the air out of the tires as a way to make the problem go away,'" Romero said.

"The list released Monday also does not specify what has happened to former Guantanamo Bay detainees.

[While] the fate of some [British nationals] is documented...transferred back to Britain...what has become of dozens of other detainees was not known.

"Some could be free. Others could be in secret U.S. detention centers, or in torture cells of prisons in other countries.

"The AP sought the names, photos and other details of current and former Guantanamo Bay detainees through a Freedom of Information Act request on Jan. 18. After the Pentagon didn't respond, the AP filed a lawsuit in March seeking compliance.

"The Pentagon later agreed to turn over much of the information. Motions are pending in court for additional information, including the height and weight of the roughly 480 detainees still at Guantanamo Bay to assist with news coverage of a hunger strike.

"The Pentagon refused to release that information, arguing that medical records are private. The military said the hunger strike began in August and has involved a maximum of 131 detainees.
"The U.S. military says about 480 detainees are now at Guantanamo Bay. About 275 have been released or transferred."
* * *

Meanwhile, across the pond, the BBC reports that British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, apparently disagreeing with Prime Minister Blair's characterization & trivialization of Guantanamo as an "anamoly," called for the facility to be shut down. "[Goldsmith] is reported to have serious doubts about whether the indefinite detention of 'enemy combatants' is legal or fair." In a speech in London, he said the camp had become a symbol of injustice and its existence was 'unacceptable'."

In response, U.S. "State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US did not want to release people who might 'end up on the battlefield' or commit terrorist acts."

By the way, for anybody who's interested, this is the legal equivalent of imprisoning a person before he commits a crime, because he might.

If the prisoners have indeed already committed a crime, let them be charged & tried. Indefinite detention is pure bullshit & recognized as such in every legal system of the civilized world. Sometimes I just can't believe these statements are coming from American mouths.

"[I]n the strongest worded condemnation yet from a British government minister, Lord Goldsmith said: 'The existence of Guantanamo remains unacceptable.'

"'It is time, in my view, that it should close. Not only would it, in my personal opinion, be right to close Guantanamo as a matter of principle, I believe it would also help to remove what has become a symbol to many--right or wrong--of injustice.

"'The historic tradition of the United States as a beacon of freedom, liberty and of justice deserves the removal of this symbol.'"
* * *

You won't be surprised, of course, to learn that our Administration told the Brits--our supporters in the Iraq invasion--to "sod off."

Or that the UN has also, late last week, denounced us for our abusive treatment of detainees in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and God knows where else.


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