Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Closing Gitmo will probably take longer than a year

Barack Obama has the right on its heel, with the leak of signing a potential executive order to start the process of closing Guantánamo Bay once he ascends to the presidency.

But experts say it is likely to take many months, perhaps as long as a year, to empty the prison that has drawn international criticism since it received its first prisoners seven years ago this week. One transition official said the new administration expected that it would take several months to transfer some of the remaining 248 prisoners to other countries, decide how to try suspects and deal with the many other legal challenges posed by closing the camp.

People who have discussed the issues with transition officials in recent weeks said it appeared that the broad outlines of plans for the detention camp were taking shape. They said transition officials appeared committed to ordering an immediate suspension of the Bush administration’s military commissions system for trying detainees.

The main question of closing Gitmo is this, who is to be released and who is to be tried? Or who can not go home and where is a new home for some of these detainees?
“I thought he was trying to manage expectations of how quickly those detainees who remain can be sorted into two categories: those who will be released and those who will be prosecuted,” Ms. Mendelson said.

Aside from analyzing intelligence and legal filings on each of the remaining detainees, diplomats and legal experts have said the new administration will need to begin an extensive new international effort to resettle as many as 150 or more of the remaining men. Portugal and other European countries have recently broken a long diplomatic standoff, saying they would work with the new administration and might accept some detainees who cannot be sent to their home countries because of concerns about their potential treatment.

This is promising coming from other European countries opting to take some of these prisoners off our hands, something the Bush Administration could not get these countries to commit on our behalf.

Guantánamo Bay has become an embarrassment due to the political stance of the Bush Administration. And once the information of how many of these detainees were treated came out, the blemish became apparent an eye sore on this country.
According to a June 21, 2005, New York Times opinion article,[97] on July 29, 2004, an FBI agent was quoted as saying, "On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more." Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt, who headed the probe into FBI accounts of abuse of Guantánamo prisoners by Defense Department personnel, concluded the man (a Saudi, described as the "20th hijacker") was subjected to "abusive and degrading treatment" by "the cumulative effect of creative, persistent and lengthy interrogations." The techniques used were authorized by the Pentagon, he said.[98]Many of the released prisoners have complained of enduring beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced injections, and other physical and psychological mistreatment during their detention in Camp Delta.

Some ex-prisoners in interviews at their homes, weeks after being released, talked of what they said was the overwhelming feeling of injustice among the approximately 680 men detained indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay.

Quotes from ex-prisoners:

"I was trying to kill myself", said Shah Muhammad, 20, a Pakistani who was

captured in northern Afghanistan in November 2001, handed over to American soldiers and flown to Guantánamo in January 2002. "I tried four times, because I was disgusted with my life."

"We needed more blankets, but they would not listen", he said.[99]

The U.S. government has denied all of the above charges, but on May 9, 2004, The Washington Post publicized classified documents that showed Pentagon approval of using sleep deprivation, exposure to hot and cold, bright lights, and loud music during interrogations at Guantánamo.[100][101]

This brings us to why many in the International Community offered no help to the United States, due to much of the treatment of these prisoners and violation of the Geneva Convention Treaty. One thing that is clear, the Geneva Convention was not adhered to when it came to the torture tactics used by the United States of America.

The United States of America has always been a country that followed international rule of law, as the treaty of the Geneva Convention. Bush & Company not only rejected this, but became the mockery of "us vs. them".

Just looked where it got us? An administration that has lied so much to the public that anything coming out of their mouths is viewed with such skepticism, many in this country just don't believe anything George W. Bush has to say. And after viewing Bush's whining, unrealistic, totally out of touch press conference yesterday, no wonder folks can not wait for he and Dick Cheney to leave and I mean for GOOD.

NY Times

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