Guantanamo Bay is in the news again as yet another round of lawfare starts in a federal court in Washington, D.C. The case in question involves two Uigher Moslem from China who were captured as they fled from a Taliban camp during the liberation of Afghanistan in 2001. This is yet another one of the many cases where the media and certain human rights groups distort the facts around Guantanamo Bay.
These two Uigher Mmoslems (and five others) would face persecution in China (there is currently a Uigher separatist movement in that province, fuelled by the Chinas repression of religion). Note in this case, the United States has not returned these men to China, but instead has them in a very minimum security portion of Guantanamo Bay. One of the big problems in
finding a country to release them to is that China has been exerting diplomatic pressure.
The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay not judged to be enemy combatants are usually released to their home countries. As of August 22, 177 have been released to their countries of origin. Another 68 have rendered to other governments (29 to Pakistan, 9 to the UK, 7 to France, 7 to Russia, 5 to Morocco, 4 to Saudi Arabia, 2 to Spain, 2 to Belgium, 1 to Kuwait, and 1 to Australia).
The Defense Department currently has 505 people in custody, many taken prisoner during combat. These detainees are still held at Guantanamo for one of two reasons. Either tThey are still dangerous, or they can still provide valuable intelligence. Often, the circumstances of their capture are very unclear, and detainees have been very good at lying (as of May, at least 12 released detainees are known to have rejoined the combatants). In fact, the al-Qaeda manual instructs captured members to falsely claim abuse and torture.
One detainee of note was an Iraqi who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. This was an al Qaeda operative, who, according to an evidence summary released after a Freedom of Information Act request, was supposed to work with an Iraqi intelligence officer in carrying out a chemical mortar attack on the U.S. and British embassies in Pakistan in August 1998. There has been at least one instance where a detainee attempted to attack guards who discovered a weapon, and threats have occurred from other detainees every day.
The Department of Defense will be very thorough in making the decision on whether or not to release a detainee. They face a delicate balancing act between national security and the rights of the detainees. This is a tough job that the Department of Defense has managed well for the most part, and has not gotten enough credit for. Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)