Posted by Dafydd
Captain Ed has been collecting victims to review — I’m sorry, requesting volunteers to review the unclassified case files of various detainee tribunal hearings. He wants us to determine if there is good reason in these files to still be holding these people in Guantanamo Bay, or whether it appears as though a miscarriage of military justice has occurred.
This post will be cross-posted to Big Lizards; abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
The first point to make — and it’s a biggie — is that we only get to see the unclassified information. The tribunals are also given access to classified evidence from the case files. Clearly, the most damning evidence would most likely be present only in the classified evidence, as that is where all the intel from American and Coalition agents, witness identifications, and classified documentary evidence is kept.
So I cannot really answer whether any of these detainees is wrongly held; I can only give a partial answer there. I can, however, state if I think there is good reason, even in the unclassified evidence, to continue to hold that detainee.
So it’s a little one-sided, but there’s nothing I can do about that.
Set 28 of the tribunal hearings comprises six distinct detainee cases. Some are identified by name, but as this is irrelevant, I’ll just refer to them by the order in which they appear in the pdf. Here are my quick summaries and first-impression conclusions (from the 52-page pdf):
- The first detainee admits he served with the Taliban, but he says they drafted him. Other than this allegation, I found nothing in the unclassified section that would justify continued detention.
- This detainee admits he obtained a fake Chadian passport with a false name. He is accused of consorting with known al-Qaeda agents and engaging in military operations against the United States and the Coalition. If these charges are well sourced (the evidence would be in the classified section), then certainly he should be held.
- This one was captured in Pakistan in the company of known al-Qaeda agents. He was wearing a Casio F-91W watch, which is commonly used by al-Qaeda in timing devices used for explosives. He is also accused of taking training at the al-Qaeda run Khalden Camp.
He gave evasive and contradictory answers during questioning. For example, he claims he “flew” from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, but the trip took him a week. He says he went to get medical treatment for his back; he says his back is hurt by cold weather. And he claims to have emigrated from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan because the weather in Pakistan is “warmer.” There is ample reason, even in the unclassified section, to hold this detainee.
- There is nothing even alleged in the unclassified portion that would justify holding this one.
- This one stayed for months in a camp run by a known al-Qaeda front organization, but he says he didn’t notice. He was IDed as an al-Qaeda agent. He gave inconsistent answers during questioning: for example, he said that while in Yemen, he decided he wanted to go to Europe as a political refugee, because of the way North Yemens treated South Yemens… so he toddled off to Pakistan. I am looking at a map of the Middle East, and by golly, Yemen to Pakistan appears to be travel in the opposite direction from Europe.
He admits he illegally entered Iran. There is plenty of reason to hold this detainee.
- The last case is a detainee accused of being a commander in Hezb-i-Islami, under the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. When the accusation was read to the detainee, he claimed that HIG was fighting on the side of the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. But when I looked them up, it turns out they were actually allied with Mullah Omar and the Taliban, and they are still fighting against American soldiers today. I’m suspicious that this was an attempt at disinformation by the detainee.
He was also IDed as an al-Qaeda member; and he was so evasive during questioning that even I felt like slapping him around some. For example, he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the question of whether he was in the Taliban until the fifth time he was asked. He was asked what documents he had with him, and he went into a Vinnie Barbarino routine: where? with you. in my pockets? yes, in your pockets. Where? This guy should absolutely be held; he has something he’s hiding, in my opinion.
And that’s it. I’m not sure how useful all this will be, but I’ve done my bit for “the cause.” (“Cause” Captain Ed asked me to, that’s what cause!)