Then there is the president's second untruth about who actually has been detained at Gitmo and elsewhere:
It's important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held at Guantanamo. These aren't common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield - we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo.
Again, as has been exhaustively documented, this is false. Dozens of Gitmo detainees have been released with no charges brought against them, just as the U.S. concedes that up to 90 percent of those jailed at Abu Ghraib were innocent. Read this op-ed about just one man detained for four years at Gitmo, even though the administration conceded he was innocent. Earlier this year, to cite another investigation, the National Journal examined court documents relating to 132 "enemy combatants" at Gitmo, or about a quarter of the detainees there. Money quote:
National Journal undertook a detailed review of the unclassified files to develop profiles of the 132 men. NJ separately reviewed transcripts for 314 prisoners who pleaded their cases before Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantanamo. Taken together, the information provides a picture of who, exactly, has been taken prisoner in the war on terror and is being held in an anomalous U.S. military prison on an island belonging to one of America's bitterest enemies ...
The first thing that jumps out of the statistics is that a majority of the detainees in both groups are not Afghans - nor were they picked up in Afghanistan as U.S. troops fought the Taliban and Al Qaeda, nor were they picked up by American troops at all. Most are from Arab countries, and most were arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities.
Seventy-five of the 132 men, or more than half the group, are ... not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners ... Just 57 of the 132 men, or 43 percent, are accused of being on a battlefield in post-9/11 Afghanistan. The government's documents tie only eight of the 132 men directly to plans for terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan.
Here's another little detail worth remembering, also uncovered by National Journal:
Much of the evidence against the detainees is weak. One prisoner at Guantanamo, for example, has made accusations against more than 60 of his fellow inmates; that's more than 10 percent of Guantanamo's entire prison population. The veracity of this prisoner's accusations is in doubt after a Syrian prisoner, Mohammed al-Tumani, 19, who was arrested in Pakistan, flatly denied to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal that he'd attended the jihadist training camp that the tribunal record said he did.
Tumani's denial was bolstered by his American "personal representative," one of the U.S. military officers - not lawyers - who are tasked with helping prisoners navigate the tribunals. Tumani's enterprising representative looked at the classified evidence against the Syrian youth and found that just one man - the aforementioned accuser - had placed Tumani at the terrorist training camp. And he had placed Tumani there three months before the teenager had even entered Afghanistan. The curious U.S. officer pulled the classified file of the accuser, saw that he had accused 60 men, and, suddenly skeptical, pulled the files of every detainee the accuser had placed at the one training camp. None of the men had been in Afghanistan at the time the accuser said he saw them at the camp.
That's the "rigorous process" the president spoke of yesterday. It doesn't exist - and never has.
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