Maybe None of Them are Terrorists. Consider this theoretical possibility: if no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, is it also possible that there are no al-Qaida terrorists in Guantánamo? It seems far fetched, put so bluntly. If only by chance, it would seem likely that some of the detainees might be terrorists. The US secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, argues that the inhumane incarceration, the secrecy and the abuse of any principles of justice are all justified by the fact that these prisoners are the hardest of hard cases. But given what we know of those who have been released, the refusal of the US to open the evidence to challenge, and the secrecy that surrounds the prison and all who languish there, the proposition is worth considering. And since none of us have been allowed to know much, it is worth listening to those who know a little more.
Lt Commander Charles Smith of the US navy is one of the five serving officers assigned to the defense of Guantánamo prisoners who attended a meeting in Oxford last weekend to discuss the realities rather than the myths of Guantánamo. Smith has visited Guantánamo Bay several times and has come closer than most non-inmates to what happens there…
…Smith, a military defense attorney for more than seven years, went to Guantánamo expecting his client to be a hardened terrorist. Instead, he met a Yemeni migrant who had got a job driving agricultural workers on Osama bin Laden’s farm near Kandahar and had ended up as one of several drivers who chauffeured the man himself. Appalled by September 11 and by Bin Laden’s reaction to it, he left his job as soon as he safely could, then, as war was imminent, took his wife to safety in Pakistan. He had returned to Afghanistan to try to sell his car and pack up when he was detained and handed over to US forces.
It makes sense to Smith that his client should have been detained as a potentially valuable intelligence source and a useful witness. But, he says: “Would you charge Al Capone’s chauffeur with Al Capone’s crimes? I had to ask myself, after I’d met him, is this really the best they’ve got? Are there no real terrorists in Guantánamo Bay?”
Out of more than 600 people, only six have been designated for trial. Nearly 100 detainees have been released with no more explanation than had been given for their detention. One Afghan detainee was handed $100 by a US military officer as he arrived at Kabul airport, as though he were a taxi driver being tipped for carrying his bags. (link)
The comparison with Iraq is particularly apt. This is an administration that we know either uses completely unreliable intelligence or is lying to the American people. They’ve presented “evidence” before that doesn’t prove what they claim it proves. How far has the rot spread? Shouldn’t we try to find out? [Al-Muhajabah’s Islamic Blogs]
This raises a good question. Given what we know about the Feds grabbing hundreds of innocent people after 9/11 and later releasing them, I would be at all surprised if most of the so-called terrorists are actually innocent.