Release of Six Detainees After Twelve Years Highlights the Historic Evil of Guantánamo
The U.S. military overnight transferred six Guantánamo detainees to Uruguay. All of them had been imprisoned since 2002 – more than 12 years. None has ever been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. They had all been cleared for release years ago by the Pentagon itself, but nonetheless remained in cages until today.
Among the released detainees is Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Lebanese-born Syrian national and father of four who was seized by the Pakistani police and turned over to the U.S. in 2002 for what was reportedly a large bounty. He was cleared for release in 2009 – five years ago – and has repeatedly gone on hunger strikes inside the camp to protest his treatment. At the age of 43, he has become physically debilitated. As the human rights group Reprieve detailed:
As a result of the conditions inside the prison and the callous treatment he has received, Mr Dhiab’s health has now deteriorated to such an extent that he is confined to a wheelchair. Recent revelations revealed that Mr. Dhiab is being denied access to his wheelchair, meaning he is brutally dragged from his cell and force-fed against his will every day.
As the great Miami Herald Guantánamo reporter Carol Rosenberg notes, there are – six years after Obama was elected on a pledge to close the camp – still 136 detainees there, with 67 of them cleared for release (Democrats’ claims that Obama is largely blameless are false and misleading in the extreme, as are claims that no country will accept detainees). In a just-posted article, Rosenberg notes that the release of these six men, all in their 30s and 40s, was underway for a full year, but it “sat on [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's] desk for months, awaiting his signature, while intelligence analysts evaluated it.”
For all the years of propagandistic assertions that the detainees are dangerous “terrorists,” almost none has been charged with any crime by a government that has repeatedly (and with disgraceful ease) convicted people on terrorism allegations. They have just been kept in cages, indefinitely, in the middle of an ocean, thousands of miles from their homes. Nine detainees have died at the camp: several allegedly by suicide, others from illness. One of the detainees kept at the camp (released in 2008) was an Al Jazeera photojournalist, Sami Al-Haj, who was encaged for six years with no charges or trial and with almost no U.S. media notice (even as the U.S. media endlessly denounces the detention of U.S. journalists by other governments).
Read the full article at The Intercept.