Sunday, January 02, 2005

 

US wants to hold innocent people forever

If true, this is shocking.
Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects

By Dana Priest

Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials. The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which also involves the State Department, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.

"We've been operating in the moment because that's what has been required," said a senior administration official involved in the discussions, who said the current detention system has strained relations between the United States and other countries. "Now we can take a breath. We have the ability and need to look at long-term solutions."

One proposal under review is the transfer of large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries. The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, the senior administration official said.

As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, according to defense officials. The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now, and would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share, the officials said. It would be modeled on a U.S. prison and would allow socializing among inmates.

The administration considers its toughest detention problem to involve the prisoners held by the CIA. The CIA has been scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations abroad where it could detain and interrogate captives without risk of discovery, and without having to give them access to legal proceedings.

The CIA is believed to be holding fewer than three dozen al Qaeda leaders in prison. The agency holds most, if not all, of the top captured al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Abu Zubaida and the lead Southeast Asia terrorist, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali.

But no public hearings in Congress have been held on CIA detention practices, and congressional officials say CIA briefings on the subject have been too superficial and were limited to the chairman and vice chairman of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

One approach used by the CIA has been to transfer captives it picks up abroad to third countries willing to hold them indefinitely and without public proceedings. The transfers, called "renditions," depend on arrangements between the United States and other countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan, that agree to have local security services hold certain terror suspects in their facilities for interrogation by CIA and foreign liaison officers.

The practice has been criticized by civil liberties groups and others, who point out that some of the countries have human rights records that are criticized by the State Department in annual reports.

"The whole idea has become a corruption of renditions," said one CIA officer who has been involved in the practice. "It's not rendering to justice, it's kidnapping."

"Renditions are the most effective way to hold people," said Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. "The threat of sending someone to one of these countries is very important. In Europe, the custodial interrogations have yielded almost nothing" because they do not use the threat of sending detainees to a country where they are likely to be tortured.
Maybe I'm being really naive here, but - if these people we're holding haven't done anything and aren't even really suspected of doing anything - why not just fucking let them go? Hardly anything is doing more damage to our reputation in the world - especially in the Muslim world - than our holding people for no reason that we can are are willing to articulate.

The wingnuts will sneer that it's only a bunch of raghads being held, so why should real Americans care? It's not like we're doing anything to actual human beings. The longer this goes on, though, the more impunity we are going to feel about doing worse and worse things. At the moment we are not committing massive gross atrocities in Iraq. Should this war go on, and the wider surrounding "war on terror," I doubt our restraint in Iraq will persist.

America does not rule the world. We can't, and we shouldn't even if we could. Our Declaration of Independence invokes a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." It's long past time for us to start showing that decent respect once more. Dismantling our system of anonymous, evidence-less captivity of mass internees is a great place to begin.

Unless they can make a case in court, they must let 99% of these people go free. Only the tiniest handful that must be detained should be kept. Building a permanent prison is a horrible signal to the rest of the world that they intend to expand the system, not shut it down.
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