[Marxism] Guantanamo Prisoners May Plead for Freedom (WSJ)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed May 19 06:21:16 MDT 2004

(None of this would have happened had the photos
of US torture at Abu Ghraib not been made public.

(All the more important, then, to open the jails
at Guantanamo so the world can find out what the
US has been doing to the prisoners there. A few
of those already released have told the media a
bit of what was done to them. We also know a bit
about how some of the US treated its OWN staff 
at Guantanamo from the case of chaplain James Y.
Yee and the others, but most of the details of
these cases remain today as unchallenged secrets. 

(The Bush administration is continuing to defend
the idea that US treatment of its prisoners at
Guantanamo should remain outside of supervision
(and thus some responsibility to) the courts of
the United States. And remember that Washington
has argued all along that prisoners being held 
by the US at Guantanamo cannot be subject to 
internationally-accepted Geneva conventions.)


Guantanamo Prisoners
May Plead for Freedom

May 19, 2004; Page B2

Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will have a chance each
year to plead for freedom before a military board, the
Defense Department said, but critics said the procedures
fell short of legal requirements.

The regulations follow a pledge that Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld made in February, after the U.S. Supreme
Court agreed to hear a case brought by relatives of some of
the Guantanamo prisoners. Since the court took the case,
the Bush administration has tried to show it isn't jailing
the prisoners arbitrarily -- stepping up releases of some
prisoners, offering additional details about its screening
process and taking public comment on plans for the annual

The government cited those developments in arguing before
the high court that judicial oversight of its detention
policies is unnecessary.

A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Michael Shavers, said the
reviews could begin within the next few weeks, but the
procedures will be secret and no report of them will be
made to Congress or the public. The Bush administration
describes its new procedures as "discretionary" and says
they can be modified or canceled as it sees fit.

Critics weren't mollified. "Anything set up by whim can be
taken away by whim, so we still insist that our people are
entitled to some kind of court process," said Thomas
Wilner, a lawyer representing Kuwaiti detainees at
Guantanamo in the Supreme Court case.

Also yesterday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
said the U.S. had underestimated the enemy in the Iraq war
and failed to predict the resilience of Saddam Hussein and
his supporters, and that it is impossible to say how long
the U.S. will need to keep a large military force in Iraq
after a scheduled handover of power to a new government on
June 30. He spoke at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The rules issued yesterday affect the vast majority of the
nearly 600 detainees at the naval base in Cuba, who were
captured in the Afghan war and have been held since then
without being charged. The Bush administration maintains
that the prisoners are "unlawful combatants" who can be
held indefinitely for interrogation and as a way of
preventing them from taking up arms against the U.S.

The Bush administration also is setting up a separate
system of military tribunals where noncitizen detainees can
be charged with specific war crimes and sentenced to
punishments including death. President Bush has designated
six Guantanamo prisoners as eligible for such prosecutions,
and two have been charged. Prisoners who are acquitted by
such tribunals could still be held indefinitely as enemy
combatants under the new administrative rules.

The regulations apply only to Guantanamo prisoners, but
similar rules are planned for enemy combatants held within
the U.S. The reviews will be conducted by boards made up of
at least three military officers, including one with
intelligence experience.

Write to Jess Bravin at jess.bravin at wsj.com

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