Friday, May 10, 2013

Over half of the prisoners at Gitmo are known to be innocent, but we still don't release them

That's right:  86 of the 166 prisoners at Gitmo have been officially cleared for release because the US government now admits they have no connection to terrorism, but they continue to be held because our leaders can't figure out how to release them.

Not that we're trying too damn hard:  the Obama administration closed the office responsible for figuring it out, and the Pentagon refuses to make use of relaxed restrictions on prisoner release granted by Congress.

Another 50 are being held--presumably until they die--because the "evidence" we have against them is the result of torture (er, enhanced interrogation) and cannot be used in court.  So even a military tribunal cannot convict them, so we basically intend to force feed them (many are on hunger strike) till they die.

This is not new, unfortunately.  The US government has a long, sordid history of holding people without charges until they die, just as the US public has a long, shameful history of ignoring it.

About twenty years ago I was deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Center, then at Fort Chaffee AR, for wargames.  Most people don't know it, but Fort Chaffee is where we eventually sent part of the remnant population from Castro's Mariel "boat lift"to live out the rest of their lives in squalid conditions in condemned barracks.  By hook and crook I got to see some of this up close, and most of what I saw was now wizened old men in their sixties and seventies, most with no teeth.

The US government gave most of the troops involved in imprisoning these folks the Humanitarian Service Award (you just can't make this stuff up).

Ironically, the two largest mass life-time detentions by the US in modern history have been overseen by the two Presidents to win the Nobel Peace Prize:  Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

For all of Carter's subsequent posturing about human rights around the world, just as with all of Obama's rhetoric on similar topics, both pursued (especially Obama) foreign and domestic policies that would have made Richard Nixon cringe.

And we continue to give President Obama a pass on it.

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