WikiLeaks: original sin of Guantanamo

2011-04-26 22:37

Washington - Innocent bystanders locked up for no reason, al-Qaeda militants released to commit new atrocities: WikiLeaks has poured light on the "original sin" of Guantanamo, activists and experts say.

Documents released by the whistle blowing website show a system riddled with errors and botched assessments that have helped lead floundering efforts to shutter the facility on the southern tip of Cuba into a legal quagmire.

"These documents are remarkable because they show just how questionable the government's basis has been for detaining hundreds of people, in some cases indefinitely, at Guantanamo," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said.

"The one-sided assessments are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false," the rights group said.

"The documents are the fruit of the original sin by which the rule of law was scrapped when Guantanamo detainees were first rounded up."

For military justice expert Eugene Fidell, the documents prove not only that the detentions were unjust, but also that they were ineffective militarily.

"What becomes clear is the amateur quality of the interrogations and the chaotic nature of the work that was done during interrogations," he said.

"They would have been a lot better off had they done what the Geneva conventions require in case of doubt, which is hold an inquiry, hold a so-called competent tribunal on or near the battlefield."

The damage is done

Now, for the 172 inmates who remain, "the damage is done," Fidell said. "[Officials] are doing the only things they can do, they are taking a very hard look at the people who are left."

President Barack Obama, in one of his first acts upon taking office in January 2009, promised to shutter the facility within a year, saying it epitomized all that was wrong with his predecessor's "war on terror".

Determined to right the wrongs of president George W Bush's administration, he set up a working group to review the files of the 240 inmates still being held.

But, according to the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, the files were years out of date and repeated inaccurate Bush administration allegations "long since put to rest".

The legal advocacy group is calling on the Obama administration to publish its own findings, revealing who has been designated for trial, who will be released, and who will be held indefinitely.

"Without names and details of cases where the administration claims it needs to detain individuals without charges or trial, it will continue to be impossible to have any meaningful public debate about the wisdom of such a policy," it said.

The ACLU struck a similar tone, saying: "It's not too late to change course.

"We need more legal process, not less, to make sure we're holding the right people. The cases of the remaining Guantanamo detainees cry out for independent judicial review," it said.

Back-pedalling

Benjamin Wittes, of the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the right approach was to build and adhere to systems of justice that "reflect an appreciation of the uncertainty inherent in this sort of exercise.

"We need to accept that we will detain people whose detentions we will come to regret, and we will release people whose releases we will come to regret. We should not pretend when either happens that certainty was possible."

The Obama administration has been back-pedalling on Guantanamo pretty hard recently, although it insists it still would like to close the facility as soon as possible.

Many of those remaining in Guantanamo are of Yemeni descent and there is an obvious reluctance to return even "low-risk" inmates to such a hotbed of al-Qaeda militancy when the country is in the throes of a popular uprising.

Congress because of security concerns has blocked the president from bringing accused terrorists to stand trial in federal courts in the United States, so his attorney general reluctantly has agreed to proceed with military tribunals at Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, legal questions abound on water-boarding and confessions allegedly extracted through torture.

The trials of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several alleged accomplices are likely to drag on for many years, extending the life of Guantanamo well beyond Obama's White House tenure.

Read more on:    us  |  us terror threat
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.