The Bush administration has cooked up another bounty program that will undoubtedly result in hundreds of innocent persons in Afghanistan and Pakistan being detained and imprisoned perhaps for years if history is repeated.
The US military will pay anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 for twelve "Most Wanted" Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. Posters and billboards are being put up around eastern Afghanistan with the names and pictures of the 12 in hopes that they will be turned in by cash-poor neighbors or personal enemies. Additionally, the U.S. is paying up to $10,000 to Afghans who turn in any foreign fighter. Afghans who tell authorities about roadside bombs that have been planted also receive payments resulting in many innocent Afghans being turned in and detained for lengthy periods. In an extraordinarily unsuccessful bounty program, after six years, the US still has a $25 million price tag on Osama bin Laden and a $10 million bounty on Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Despite the bounty on Omar, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that he would be willing to meet with Omar if it would lead to peace.
Over 370 people who still remain in Guantanamo were turned into US forces (not captured by US forces) in Afghanistan and Pakistan for rewards from $5,000 (for alleged Taliban) to $25,000 (for alleged al-Qaeda). The Bush administration says that 300 will never be charged, yet they are still imprisoned after five and one-half years. Only 50-70 prisoners will be charged according to the Bush administration.
Of the approximately 770 persons imprisoned in Guantanamo over the past 5 and one-half years, over 400 have been released and never charged with any offense by their home country when returned. Only one of the 770 imprisoned in Guantanamo has been charged and convicted. Earlier this year Australian David Hicks was convicted of materially aiding the enemy and sentenced to nine additional months in prison to be served in his home country of Australia after Australian Prime Minister Howard finally confronted Vice-President Dick Cheney about lack of due process for Hicks during Cheney's visit to Australia.
Neither the US military nor the CIA has a good track record of being able to efficiently and professionally interrogate detainees. Language barriers, lack of understanding of cultural traditions and an environment of no-accountability for lengthy unwarranted detentions (over one year for most detainees) has ensured that US detention and imprisonment policies will increase daily the numbers of individuals and families who despise the United States, its policies and those in the military and other government agencies who implement those policies.
Unfortunately, this latest round-up scheme by the Bush administration will ensure more roadside bombs are placed and suicide bombers attack United States and NATO forces.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army and Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Bush administration's war on Iraq. She was on the State Department team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001. She is the co-author of a book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" that has been delayed in publication by the government review process required for former State Department employees