Sunday, July 29, 2007

90% of Released Gitmo Prisoners Are Peaceful

By Cernig

Today, a pretty bit of stenography from Australia's The Age newspaper is causing some excitement over on the right wing of Blogtopia (ys,ydctp). It says that:
AT LEAST 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been killed or recaptured after taking up arms against allied forces following their release.

They have been discovered mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not in Iraq, a US Defence Department spokesman told The Age yesterday.

Commander Jeffrey Gordon said the detainees had, while in custody, falsely claimed to be farmers, truck drivers, cooks, small-arms merchants, low-level combatants or had offered other false explanations for being in Afghanistan.

"We are aware of dozens of cases where they have returned to militant activities, participated in anti-US propaganda or engaged in other activities," said Commander Gordon.

His comments follow the death this week of Taliban commander and former detainee Abdullah Mehsud, who reportedly blew himself up rather than surrender to Pakistani forces. In December 2001, Mehsud was captured in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo Bay until his release in March 2004. He later became the Taliban chief for South Waziristan.
The report goes on to say that "only one in three" of Gitmo detainees "could be definitely identified as a fighter for the Taliban, al-Qaeda or associated groups, according to the analysis by the Combating Terrorism Centre based at the West Point Military Academy." That's in contrast with an independent study that said only 8% were Al Qaeda fighters.

It's difficult to get an exact total number for all those who have been detained at Gitmo, but in October 2002 there were 625. Some were released and others added over the years but as of July 16, 2007, approximately 360 detainees were still incarcerated. Amnesty International puts the total who have passed through Gitmo at over 750.

Let's be small-c conservative and say that means 400 detainees have been released. How about a headline that reads "Over 90% of Released Gitmo Torture Victims Are Peaceful"? That's hardly going to inspire the extreme right to the same heights of vitriol, is it?

Andrew Bolt at the Murdoch-owned Australian newspaper, the Herald-Sun writes:
The real scandal isn’t that the US has locked up suspects at Guantanamo Bay, but that it’s let so many of them go free - free to resume their terrorism...How many people have now been murdered by fanatics set free from Guantanamo Bay, at the urging of so many civil libertarians and Leftist activists? How many deaths do those civil libertarians now have on their conscience?
Umm, a hell of a lot less than the cheerleaders for war in Iraq do, Andrew.

Michelle Malkin outright lies about Democratic Party views and writes:
Savvy Democrats ought to be questioning the Bush administration’s mass release of Saudi detainees given such analysis. But they’re all too busy pressing for the immediate closure of Gitmo and the full liberation of every last detainee from the facility.

Democrats: For freeing jihadists faster.
When every Democratic or even progressive voice who has spoken on the subject has simply asked for application of standard rules of law in standard criminal trials - and that those who are found guilty should be sentenced under that same law, not released.

Jason Steck falls for a version of the same faulty framing as he argues that the geneva conventions need modifying to take account of an entirely new category - “unlawful enemy combatants” - which was invented wholesale by Bush administration legal shills just so that evidence obtained by torture and perpetual detainment of non-POW's could be admissable.

While The Jawa Report and Wizbang just get shrill, blaming liberals for releases ordered by the Bush administration instead of conducting actual, real, criminal trials where the full stories of evidence and torture might be given.

It's all manufactured outrage, fuelled by an intellectual laziness that doesn't wonder "how many of those released stay peaceful?" That the answer is "the vast majority" should discomfit all of these writers, but with the exception of Steck certainly won't.

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