Yes, There Are Still Innocents At Gitmo
In my post below about the Democrats’ refusal to appropriate closing Guantanamo Bay, a number of commenters expressed doubt that any of the detainees there are actually innocent of the crimes they are accused of. This is far from the case. There are a number of resources available for anyone who wants to delve more deeply into this matter, but a good place to start is with the testimony of Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State.
The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.
But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.
Wilkerson also mentioned during an interview with the AP that the majority of the detainees still at Guantanamo Bay are in fact innocent.
Wilkerson told the AP in a telephone interview that many detainees “clearly had no connection to al-Qaida and the Taliban and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pakistanis turned many over for $5,000 a head.”
Some 800 men have been held at Guantanamo since the prison opened in January 2002, and 240 remain. Wilkerson said two dozen are terrorists, including confessed Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was transferred to Guantanamo from CIA custody in September 2006.
I’d encourage you to read both articles in full.