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    The startling truth about Gitmo


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    The startling truth about Gitmo

    Post by sang_garuda on Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:17 am

    Professor Mark P. Denbeaux has exposed the truth about the so-called ‘enemy combatants’ of Gitmo: 86% of them are not enemy combatants at all. By Ahmed Soliman

    Three firefighters raise an American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center at Ground Zero in New York -- a moment in time captured for the records of history by a newspaper photographer, forever symbolizing the tragic events of the September 11, 2001 attack, and the American resolve to overcome any challenge. It’s an image in our mind's eye that seems to have occurred so long ago, and yet as if it was just yesterday at the same time.

    That flag -- which rose from the rubble like a Phoenix from the ashes -- represented the "American way," which has always stood for truth and justice. In the more than six years since that fateful day, many steps have been taken to make sure the United States is never attacked again. But, unfortunately, not all of them have been the American way of doing things.

    The war against the Taliban that followed the September 11 attack was a necessary engagement to secure the United States and defeat those who would do it harm. In the days that followed the initial ouster of the Taliban, hundreds of "enemy combatants" were gathered up and sent to the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, where they could be securely detained and unable to harm the United States again. President Bush referred to them as "the worst of the worst."

    There was only one problem: It wasn't true.

    Professor Mark P. Denbeaux of Seton Hall Law School in Newark has completed a series of reports with his students over the past couple of years that has exposed the truth about the so-called "enemy combatants" of Gitmo: 86 percent of them are not enemy combatants at all. The report was largely based on government documents obtained by the Associated Press.

    After years of detention at Gitmo without a trial or representation, Federal Public Defender offices in Newark, Camden and Philadelphia assembled a team of lawyers assigned to provide something the Gitmo detainees did not have for years: legal representation.

    "Our view is that they're not justified detainments," said David McColgin, one of the attorneys representing the detainees. "A lot of it was justified on false reports from local Afghan people who simply wanted to get the bounty money the U.S. government made available, which was a real incentive to provide potentially false information."

    Although the press has largely found the detainees guilty in the court of public opinion, the United States has only recently begun to shift its policy with regard to the detainees at Gitmo. Much to President Bush’s chagrin, the Supreme Court ruled last month that the detainees are entitled to challenge their indefinite detainment in an American court.

    This week marked the beginning of the first war crimes trial at Guantánamo, which initiated with a not guilty plea from Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. Because Hamdan is charged with conspiracy and aiding terrorism, he is facing life in prison if convicted.

    Since hostilities began in Afghanistan, about 775 detainees have been kept at Guantánamo; now the total is down to about 250 (many of whom are believed to be among the 14 percent of detainees who were actually captured on the battle field). But detaining so many innocent people over the years has inflicted lasting damage on the United States.

    "For the United States, it's a real black mark. It's destroyed our reputation around the world," said McColgin. "Bush set up Gitmo so that it would be a black hole -- no information would come out of there. By getting lawyers down there, we're starting to get their version of the events out so that people can see there is another side."

    It's not an easy case to litigate. Those they are defending, even if they are not actually enemy combatants, are not the most popular people to defend in the United States. But the attorneys who have taken on this cause do so because they believe Gitmo is a mistake.

    "We're hopeful there will be more aggressive moves to close down Gitmo under a new administration," said McColgin. "I think the Democrats are on the same page on that issue. If it's a Republican, I don't know what the policy will be."

    Indeed, McColgin is correct in saying that the future of the Gitmo base is still uncertain. But there is one thing we all can agree on: The events immediately after the September 11 attack do not seem like they were “just yesterday” for those innocent people who have been detained by the Bush administration for years without a trial.

    A trial that long ago may have achieved truth, justice and the American way.

    -- Ahmed Soliman is a veteran television and print journalist and commentator in the United States, and an international lecturer on Arab-American and Muslim issues.


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    Re: The startling truth about Gitmo

    Post by shunno on Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:57 pm

    thanks for the updated global news...

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    Re: The startling truth about Gitmo

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:07 am

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