Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Guantanamo Bay: Interesting Reading

On Friday, the US government released a real treasure trove of Guantanamo Bay related documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The material had all been released earlier but in a "redacted" format (with some text blacked out). This time, it was released with names and all. The documents are divided into three sections:

  • Testimony of Detainees before the Combat Status Review Tribunal
  • Testimony of Detainees before the Administrative Review Board
  • Administrative Review Board Summaries of Detention/Release Factors
The last one of these contains a summary of the case against each detainee, while the other two contain their raw testimony before the tribunal and/or ARB.

This set of documentation provides a real snapshot of the types of people the US is holding in Guantanamo Bay, and the reasons for their continued detention. It also exposes the real quandary the US government faces in determining what to do with these men. From the released documents, many of these men were not al-Qaeda terrorists, they were simple Taliban foot soldiers, whose only "crime" was to pick up a weapon and use it in combat against US forces. The problem is, many of these men expressed a hatred for the United States and all it stand for, and if released would likely pick up a gun and go find a place to continue their fight where they left off. So, what do we do with them?

The fact that many of these people were captured enemy combatants makes them valid prisoners of war, but does it make them criminals? And, if it doesn't, what is the US going to do with these people when the military operations in Afghanistan come to an end? I expect these questions will be a thorn in the side of the Bush administration for the next couple of years...