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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.

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About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Alex, how dare you use evidence – you could shatter a person’s blind faith in GW that way – I don’t have a beef with doing the tribunals/commission at GITMO, but we need to actually do them instead of starting and stopping every few months – isn’t there a 12 year old in there who is about turn turn 18 – at this rate, he might collect social security before his tribunal. I do have to say that Obama showed his backbone on this issue as with many of his promises – he pledged to close it and is not going to.

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  2. Steve Plunk says:

    One guy’s opinion is evidence?

    What’s lacking here is what motive the U.S. government has in keeping “innocents” in custody. After realizing we are not inherently evil I wonder why we keep these poor bastards unless, maybe, they are a threat. We seem to have released 560 so why keep the “innocent”? Fact is they probably aren’t.

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  3. Mac G says:

    Just keep them there forever or gas them all. There would be no objections from the right or media.

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  4. sam says:

    One guy’s opinion is evidence?

    That one guy was “Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State.” I hazard that he might have been in a position to know.

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  5. PD Shaw says:

    I only mock the notion that innocence has anything to do with it.

    If we are engaged in lawfare, then by all means, read the perps their Miranda rights, give notice of the criminal charges against them. Let ‘em post bail.

    If its warfare, then people are detained to assist in winning a war. As the SCOTUS explained in Hamdi, detention is not punishment for a crime. During the American Civil War thousands were detained simply for being aware of troop movements in which they had no role. They were released when military necessity passed, as I expect most of the detainees at Gitmo will be released eventually.

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  6. PD Shaw says:

    chief of staff during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State.” I hazard that he might have been in a position to know.

    I wouldn’t think State would be in any better position to know what was going on in the Department of Defense than the Treasury of the EPA. And more so, because Powell was feuding with Defense.

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  7. FranklinTest says:

    What’s actually lacking is enough information to know whether some of them are guilty or innocent. There was no central tracking system for the information on the detainees, and the existing information was spread out randomly among different agencies and departments.

    The fact is, that for *some* of the inmates, we can’t release them because we don’t know if it is safe to do so, not because we have necessarily determined they are dangerous.

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  8. Mike says:

    And that is my point – this should have been sorted out by now – with the time, money, manpower used over the past few years, why are we still where we are – “we don’t know” if it is safe to release might have been an effective argument years ago but it is stretching it a bit now.

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  9. Barry says:

    Steve Plunk at May 20, 2009 14:36 Permalink
    “One guy’s opinion is evidence?”

    The US method in Afghanistan was to offer large sums of cash with no questions asked. Guess what the result would be?

    “What’s lacking here is what motive the U.S. government has in keeping “innocents” in custody. After realizing we are not inherently evil I wonder why we keep these poor bastards unless, maybe, they are a threat. We seem to have released 560 so why keep the “innocent”? Fact is they probably aren’t.”

    After 8 years of the Bush-Cheney administration, you’re asking about motives? Arrogance, power, refusal to admit mistakes, desire to keep their evils hidden. And that’s just a start.

    PD Shaw:

    “If its warfare, then people are detained to assist in winning a war. As the SCOTUS explained in Hamdi, detention is not punishment for a crime. ”

    Yeah, they’d say that. And now we’re in a war which doesn’t seem to have, you know, an actual end. Reminds me of one of those ‘permanent states of emergency’, or where somebody could be accused of ‘counter-revolutionary activities’, in a communist government decades after the revolution.

    “During the American Civil War thousands were detained simply for being aware of troop movements in which they had no role. ”

    I flat out don’t believe this.

    “They were released when military necessity passed, as I expect most of the detainees at Gitmo will be released eventually.”

    ‘When military necessity passed’ seems to be ‘never’, in the eyes of the right.

    I just dropped by to see who this blog was; no change – still evil.

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  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    Just keep them there forever or gas them all. There would be no objections from the right or media.

    wow.

    There is only ONE PARTY murdering people and forgetting about them.

    Guess witch one.

    I thinks around 60 million now.

    Why can’t we get a running daily total for that, in all media.

    Were is the outrage?

    I smell Nazi in the air and I hear the chants.

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  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alex, I think they should be released. All of them. Immediately, and directly into your neighborhood. In the vicinity of your kids schools. They should be supplies with directions to where you live so they could personally thank you and your family for your help. If you truly believe in what you say, you should not mind if they couch at your house.

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  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Typo, supplied.

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  13. [...] UPDATE: Two posts from Alex Knapp, here and here. [...]

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  14. Tlaloc says:

    It was obvious that Gitmo and other sites for “terrorists” were going to have innocents when details of how these people were collected came out. Most of them are simply people who were sold to our soldiers by bounty hunters or swept up in indiscriminate actions by soldiers in the field with no ability to distinguish guerrillas from citizens.

    Some where in the vicinity of 90% of the people held in Abu Ghraib were subsequently released as innocent, possibly after having been tortured for the audacity of living in Iraq. It requires a peculiar kind of disconnect from reality to believe that we did worse than 10% accuracy in Iraq and managed 100% at Gitmo.

    Add to the mathematical certainty the statement quoted above and the statements from the people running the military tribunal that they would not allow innocent verdicts.

    Oh and Phillips:

    Were is the outrage?

    I feel the exact same outrage over the destruction of a blastocyst as when I had a mole removed from my back. Oh the horror!

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  15. JKB says:

    Well, with all this innocence, it really makes no sense that the individuals’ home country or the Europeans don’t rush to free them from our evil clutches. But wait, they won’t take these guys off our hands and welcome them to live free in their society. After all of Europe’s chatter, they got quiet real quick when it looked like we might be willing to release these guys.

    I will grant that some innocents may have been swept up but still there? I doubt it as there is no interest in keeping them and we’ve released many already, except maybe that no other country will let them in and we aren’t going to let them run around uncontrolled in the US. But if they are innocent surely some foreign intelligence service would vouch for that fact to their leaders.

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  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    I feel the exact same outrage over the destruction of a blastocyst as when I had a mole removed from my back. Oh the horror!

    Thats cause your an ignorant brainwashed evolutionist, who doesn’t give a poop about anything that matters and likes when little baby’s are murdered by the millions because you and other fools have figured out that they can’t really be humans yet, damn you guys are smart.

    It was obvious that Gitmo and other sites for “terrorists” were going to have innocents when details of how these people were collected came out. Most of them are simply people who were sold to our soldiers by bounty hunters or swept up in indiscriminate actions by soldiers in the field with no ability to distinguish guerrillas from citizens.

    Ya so what it’s a war dummy. And I’m sure if your typing it it must be exaggerated or a lie.

    Some where in the vicinity of 90% of the people held in Abu Ghraib were subsequently released as innocent, possibly after having been tortured for the audacity of living in Iraq. It requires a peculiar kind of disconnect from reality to believe that we did worse than 10% accuracy in Iraq and managed 100% at Gitmo.

    Oh we got stats, so 1 out of 7 released from gitmo returned to action, how can you tell that the others have not figured out how to push the little read buttons on their murder belts yet? You know they are Muslim true believers, almost as stupid as liberals, almost.
    And I’m sure all of the ones released in Iraq went back to shop keeping, milking goats, and burning, ops I meant working in the oil fields and lived happily ever after.

    Stupid people do bad things man, what those few soldier’s did in Abu was bullsh-t, but dude, torture this torture that, come on.

    Add to the mathematical certainty the statement quoted above and the statements from the people running the military tribunal that they would not allow innocent verdicts.

    And the mathematical certainty that what you say is hyped up regurgitated treason by way of incompetent ignorance of what it means to be an American leader with the effect of undermining the war to allow the demarcates the gain political power are pretty high.

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    The conversation could be about Avocado-Smoked Salmon Soup being served in soup kitchens, and G.A.Phillips would find a way to shoehorn abortion into the discussion…

    And the mathematical certainty that what you say is hyped up regurgitated treason by way of incompetent ignorance of what it means to be an American leader with the effect of undermining the war to allow the demarcates the gain political power are pretty high.

    If only Triumph could write drivel like this…

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  18. JKB says:

    Uh oh, apparently we released the wrong detainees. Seems 1 in 7 have returned to the fight against us. You’ll believe the NY Times right? And here, if assertions in this post are correct, we are keeping the innocent ones locked up. Our evil is so great, even Obama can’t issue an executive order to release these known innocents.

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  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    The conversation could be about Avocado-Smoked Salmon Soup being served in soup kitchens, and G.A.Phillips would find a way to shoehorn abortion into the discussion…

    Good God if you make some nasty soup like that to feed the poor I might have to.

    My whole point is always why liberals should not worry about anything else till they stop supporting mass murder.
    especially the treatment of terrorists who they admire from a far, but I would not expect you to understand.

    If only Triumph could write drivel like this…

    At least Triumph is trying to be a stupid liberal not living out his destiny.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    At least Triumph is trying to be a stupid liberal not living out his destiny.

    No, actually what Triumph is doing is mocking people like you…

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  21. [...] Yes, there are still innocent people at Gitmo. [...]

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  22. cian says:

    Uh oh, apparently we released the wrong detainees. Seems 1 in 7 have returned to the fight against us.

    JKB,

    In their figures, the Pentagon included three British detainees who were released from GITMO because British Intelligence proved they had had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. On release they took part in a BBC documentary and for this were classed as having ‘returned to the battlefield’. Bizarre, yeah?

    Also, one of the Uighurs who was released wrote an op-ed in the New York Times and so was added to the 1 in 7. Ah yes, but what was he saying in that op-ed?

    Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail.

    Subversive stuff, alright. Asking for Habeas Corpus to be protected. He’s lucky we don’t lock him up again.

    Finally, based on a study of the DODs own evidence, the Seton Hall Center for Policy concluded that only one individual was alleged to have been in GITMO and recaptured on the battlefield.

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  23. Everyone Seems to Have Missed The Point About Gitmo…

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  24. JS says:

    Why does it take $80 million to CLOSE something anyway?

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