[Ppnews] Why the Pentagon's Guantánamo Study is a Joke

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 26 15:05:35 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington07262007.html

July 26, 2007


West Point PR


Why the Pentagon's Guantánamo Study is a Joke

By ANDY WORTHINGTON

In a belated attempt to win the PR battle over 
Guantánamo, a terrorism study center at West 
Point has produced a Pentagon-commissioned 
report, which attempts to refute the findings of 
a report published by the Seton Hall Law School 
in February 2006. Using the government's own 
documents--517 Unclassified Summaries of Evidence 
from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals--the 
team at Seton Hall, led by lawyers Mark and Josh 
Denbeaux, analyzed the Summaries and concluded 
that, according to the government's own 
assertions, 86 percent of the detainees were not 
captured on the battlefield by US forces, but 
were captured by the Northern Alliance or 
Pakistani forces, 55 percent were not determined 
to have committed any hostile acts against the US 
or its allies, and only 8 percent were alleged to 
have had any kind of affiliation with al-Qaeda. 
Even these assertions are doubtful. As I 
demonstrate in 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745326641/counterpunchmaga>The 
Guantánamo Files (and as is apparent from 
numerous other sources, including, most recently, 
the "Guantánamo whistleblower" Stephen Abraham), 
claims made by the government in the Summaries of 
Evidence were not necessarily accurate, and the 
percentage of detainees who actually had any 
involvement with al-Qaeda or committed any kind 
of hostile act against the US or its allies is even less than claimed.

Nevertheless, the fine patriots at West Point, 
while admitting that their report is a propaganda 
exercise, designed "to affect public attitudes," 
and with conclusions that should "enhance our 
collective understanding of the threats facing 
the United States, its allies and its interests 
and how we respond to them," have looked at the 
same documents and have produced what the New 
York Times has unquestioningly described as "a 
chilling portrait of the Guantánamo detainees," 
claiming that 73 percent of them were a 
"demonstrated threat" to American or coalition 
forces, and that 95 percent were at least a 
"potential threat," and included detainees who 
had "played a supporting role in terrorist groups 
or had expressed a commitment to pursuing jihadist violence."

What nonsense. If this is the case, why have so 
many of these "threats" been released or cleared 
for release? In the three years since the 517 
Summaries were compiled, 207 of the detainees 
studied have been released from Guantánamo. 
Almost all have been freed on their return to 
their home countries, and almost all have 
returned to civilian life. In addition, many--as 
well as reporting credible stories of torture and 
abuse at the hands of the US authorities in 
Afghanistan and Guantánamo--have reiterated the 
stories that they maintained throughout their 
detention: that they were either innocent men, 
mostly sold to the US by bounty hunters and 
unscrupulous allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 
or Taliban foot soldiers, who had traveled to 
Afghanistan to fight other Muslims--those of the 
Northern Alliance--before 9/11, as part of a long-running civil war.

Of the 310 detainees who have not been released, 
the administration itself admits that it intends 
to try 80 of these men before Military 
Commissions, that it intends to hold another 50 
because they are too dangerous to be released but 
not dangerous enough to be tried (which law book 
did they find that in then?) and that the rest 
are "eligible for release" because they are "not or no longer a threat."

Let's have a look at that again, shall we? On the 
one hand, the administration commissions its boys 
to come up with a report stating that 73 percent 
of the detainees were a "demonstrated threat," 
and 95 percent were a "potential threat," and on 
the other hand the administration itself has 
released, or cleared for release, 75 percent of 
the detainees because they were "not or no longer 
a threat" (and that's not counting the 201 
detainees who were released before the tribunal 
process began). How are we supposed to take these clowns seriously?

Andy Worthington 
(<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/>www.andyworthington.co.uk) 
is a British historian, and the author of 
'<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745326641/counterpunchmaga>The 
Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 
Detainees in America's Illegal Prison' (to be 
published by Pluto Press in October 2007).
He can be reached at: 
<mailto:andy at andyworthington.co.uk>andy at andyworthington.co.uk




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