NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 5, 2008

In a recent New York Times article, reporters discovered that, surprise, many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really are dangerous terrorists!  They reviewed "thousands of pages" of evidence that the government has so far made public and concluded that perhaps the reality is more complicated than critics claim:

  • Detainees are implicated in such terror attacks as the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.
  • Those with "serious terrorism credentials" include al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and the so-called "Dirty 30," Osama bin Laden's cadre of bodyguards.
  • The Times didn't mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, though he's awaiting a war-crimes tribunal at Gitmo too.

Even though both Barack Obama and John McCain have pledged to put Guantanamo out of business, "the review of the government's public files underscores the challenges of fulfilling that promise. The next president will have to contend with sobering intelligence claims against many of the remaining detainees," says the Times.

For example:

  • At least 60 detainees have been cleared for release or transfer but no other countries will accept them.
  • If Gitmo is no longer a prison, some U.S. facility would have to house the remaining men while they await habeas hearings and trials.
  • Yet no politician has offered up his state or district as an alternative -- and none will.

Further, if military commissions are cashiered altogether, how will prosecutors protect classified information and intelligence sources and methods in open civilian criminal court?

Hopefully, after a few harrowing threat briefings, maybe the new Commander in Chief won't rush to undo Bush's programs, says the Wall Street Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Guantanamo Revelation," Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2008; bases upon: William Glaberson and Margot Williams, "Next President Will Face Test on Detainees," New York Times, November 2, 2008.

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