The Right People, The Wrong Way?

Recent news reports the release of several former Guantanamo prisoners of British and and update on more of French nationality. But it didn’t make the news because of the controversy surrounding their detainment, but instead because they seem to indeed have been rightly jailed. According to the BBC:

Five Frenchmen who spent time at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay have been convicted of having links to terrorism by a court in Paris. All five were sentenced to one year in jail plus a suspended sentence, but will not return to jail having spent more than a year in US custody. The five were arrested in Afghanistan, where the US said they had travelled to fight with the Taleban.

For a country that has been historically tough on terrorism, it seems odd that a leftist lawyer would recommend suspended sentences rather than the 10 years that would have been called for. Nevertheless, it does go to show you that despite mistakes and legitimate concerns, Guantanamo isn’t filled with innocent men who just happened to be mingling with the wrong folks in Afghanistan. In British news, three recently released inmates sent back to the UK were immediately detained and face an uncertain future. UK authorities plan to decide whether criminal charges will be brought or whether they will be free to go as well as their immigration status.

While a dangerously stupid policy of rewards led many to turn in tribal enemies to the Americans as “terrorists,” the controversy masks a more important reality, what to do with those from country A, caught fighting in country B and detained by country C. Until this issue is discussed in earnest by Europe and the United States minus the protests, holier-than-thou attitudes and other silliness, Guantanamo will continue to fill a “market gap.” Perhaps the real way forward is maintaining US control but with foreign liasons on site and using Guantanmo as a processing center through which terrorists are sent back home to face trial.

About Chirol

Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (1852 - 1929) was a journalist, prolific author, world historian, and British diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent and later became editor of the London Times. After two decades as a journalist he joined Her Majesty's Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and was subsequently knighted for his distinguished service as a foreign affairs advisor. Additionally, he wrote a dozen books on foreign affairs including The Far Eastern Question (1896), Serbia and the Serbs (1914), The End of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and The Egyptian Problem (1921). He is generally credited with popularizing "Middle East" in reference to the Arabian Peninsula with his book The Middle Eastern Question (1903). "Chirol" is a US citizen and graduate student studying Defense and Strategic Studies and government contractor. As with the historical Chirol, he has traveled to over two dozen countries and lived abroad for many years. Chirol speaks English and German fluently with basic knowledge of manyl of others.
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9 Responses to The Right People, The Wrong Way?

  1. Eddie says:

    Horseshit.

    Gitmo is packed with detainees who have never attacked America or had anything to do with terrorism. You mention the tribal rewards, but what about the general incompetence of foreign police and counter-intelligence services in Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc? What about sheer malice (i.e. pinning a dissident as a terrorist or a local troublemaker as one just to get rid of him)?

    Worse is the disturbingly trivial and nearly non-existent evidence against most of these detainees. The government literally is standing on breaking thin ice with most of these cases.

    If the US military’s own estimates that only 12-15% of the detainees are truly terrorists, what is the real purpose of holding the other 85% who are either low-level troublemakers or simply innocent people trapped in a bizarre legal system only Stalin could appreciate?

    If I was a Pakistani or Yemeni falsely held in Gitmo, I would consider joining the Islamic resistance after finally being released too. You’re not going to deny my freedom and then expect me to take it lying down. We’re creating more terrorists with Gitmo, quite akin to how we mutate low-level drug offenders into hardened criminals by sending them to prison. It doesn’t fill a market gap, it creates a problem.

    We dillute our values (if we have any left) by arresting a Pakistani in Afghanistan who we have little direct evidence about, then handing him over to a corrupt legal system to face trial with that sliver of weak evidence (perhaps after engaging in some enhanced interrogation tactics that would make his trial in America impossible) and have his likely false imprisonment or execution on our hands.

    The real way forward would be to stop trusting the bullshit assertions of foreigners who have alterior agendas and far different standards of innocence and guilt and move on to a more intelligent policy of catching and/or killing our enemies in the shadows by ourselves and with limited foreign assistance that stays within that nation’s borders without resorting to the false pretenses of justice for all and human rights we obviously don’t believe in anymore for non-Americans.

    Catch them in Pakistan. Interrogate them in Pakistan. Release or try them in Pakistan.

  2. nykrindc says:

    I agree with Eddie to a point. The administration has had 6 years to come up with a system for handling detainees and negotiating with our allies to make it transparent and acceptable to the majority. That Guantanamo still exists, is a testament the administration’s incompetence and go it alone bravado.

    In a post I wrote in 2006, I quoted Dr. Emile Nakhehl, who was the Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program at the CIA. I cited him as stating “Some of the detainees participated in jihad in Afghanistan, mostly against the Northern Alliance; others did not but were caught in the dragnet—having been at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Even the command down there knew that probably one-third of the prisoners were neither terrorists nor jihadists, and wouldn’t have been there if we weren’t paying a bounty to Pakistani security forces for every Middle Eastern-looking person they handed over to us. Almost every detainee I spoke to claimed that we paid $5,000 per person. Unfortunately, we treated everyone the same, which led the non-jihadists at Guantanamo to hate us as much as the rest, becoming more hardened in their attitudes toward the US and more disappointed in the American sense of fairness and justice.”

    This more than anything, to me, argues against keeping Gitmo open. Enough time has passed that we should have had a new system, that we do not, is no one’s fault but our own.

  3. Chirol says:

    nykrindc: I would rather say it needs to be remodeled into a processing facility with intl oversight and not necessarily closed although I’m open to it. I would also definitely agree that it has both damaged our image as well as created further terrorists due to its unfair detainment of some prisoners. I hope the next administration doesn’t drag its feet in solving the issue for good.

  4. Eddie says:

    And to clarify, there ARE real terrorists in Gitmo. Their numbers are seriously overstated and given that the CIA and others have already botched their interrogation, it would seem their use to us ended almost after we captured them.

  5. nykrindc says:

    At one point I would have agreed that Gitmo could be remodeled into a processing facility with International oversight. I don’t think that is possible any longer, since it has so become a symbol of the post-9/11 America that not too many in the world like, or identify with scare-mongering, unilateralism (fairly or not) that the only way for a new president to demonstrate to the world that a new era in US-World relations will be ushered in, is by closing Gitmo.

    That is one of the questions that i think most current candidates have not been asked, particularly those who want to close it: If you believe we should close the facility at Guantanamo Bay, what should replace it, and how would you implement this change?

    Given Europe’s criticism of us, I think we should push for a site near the ICC, and under NATO supervision.

  6. Every con is always innocent, was set up, railroaded, and victimized by the system.

    Terrorists have no rights. They are pirates. Those taken in arms on the battlefield by U.S. forces, upon out-living their intelligence value should receive 112 grains of copper jacketed lead to the back of the neck and their families billed for the cost of the ammunition.

    Terrorists acquired from other sources who have outlived their usefulness to American intelligence should be micro-chipped and extradited to the country that rendered them to the Americans.

  7. Michael says:

    I like nykrindc’s idea. Cannoneer’s. . . at risk of sounding more liberal than I actually am, if terrorists have no rights, who does?

  8. thoreaujr says:

    Closing Gitmo or transitioning it into something more like an international processing facility will require a fundamental shift in the way we look at Terrorism. Most EU countries see terrorism as a criminal activity while the US sees it as an act of war. Which is it? If it is an act of war, then our arguments for keeping Gitmo open are, to a small degree, valid (just remember, even POW’s have rights). If it is a crime, than Gitmo should become an international processing facility so each country can process these individuals through their judicial system. Either way, it’s going to be a sticky subject for the next administration. My vote is reinstitute the rule of law and human rights in our country and transition to a processing facility and deal with these people as we should’ve dealt with them from the beginning, through the judiciary.

  9. Michael, uniformed soldiers of an enemy nation-state’s military force have rights.

    Presuming terrorists are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is suicidal.