At the behest of Britain's brand spanking new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, five Brit residents currently imprisoned at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay might be released and sent back home. Which leaves about 370 other detainees held there, with little hope of freedom or a just, open trial.
According to The Associated Press, about 400 Guantanamo prisoners have been transferred to their home countries since 2002. But in some cases, the Bush administration has been hesitant to turn over the prisoners because, "it hasn't been able to secure the assurances required by American law that they would not be mistreated."
OK, sure. We're worried about what might happen to those folks, too. But frankly, we're having a devil of a time believing that the U.S. State Department gives a rip about the rights and well-being of the people it's held with hoods over their heads, stripped of habeas corpus rights (Fair trial? Fat chance) and in some cases beaten and tortured for years. How's that for "mistreatment"?
We're here to remind our government that detaining those folks indefinitely at Guantanamo and sending them to uncertain futures by handing them over to their harsh home country governments aren't the only options available. We need to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and restore the habeas rights of detainees, allowing them access to our federal courts. If those people have been arrested by the U.S. and detained by the U.S., it stands to reason that they have access to the U.S. justice system (not those Kafkaesque military commissions) in order to defend themselves.
© 2007 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer