US Government Disappearing People – A Guantánamo Story

200707081402Today’s Bush administration story of outrage is brought to you by 19 year old Murat Kurnaz who was released after being held illegally and without any right for five years:

FIFTEEN AMERICAN SOLDIERS WATCHED over a man, shackled to a seat in the cargo bay of a C-17 Globemaster — the Air Force workhorse that usually moves Abrams tanks, Chinook helicopters or infantry vehicles. Wearing goggles that shut out all light, a soundproof headset and a mask that covered his mouth so he could not speak, spit or bite, the prisoner arrived at Ramstein Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, under the tightest security. The plane had burned through 36,000 gallons of jet fuel and had refueled in flight. During the seventeen-hour ride, the prisoner was provided with neither food nor water. Nor was he allowed to stretch his legs or relieve himself.

Yet nothing the judge did would result in his release. Judge Green ruled in his favor, devoting a number of pages in her 75-page opinion (some redacted) to the government’s sloppy prosecution and lack of evidence against this man. But the heart of her ruling was that the process was basically illegal. The ruling was stayed, pending a decision at the appellate level. And after the trial, the then-Republican Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, which included a controversial provision by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that denyed all detainees the right to file habeas corpus petitions. The habeas corpus right that Judge Green had provided as an avenue out of Guantánamo was stripped away by Congress.

Why wasn’t he released? Well it looks like we just ignored the evidence.

But in nearly 100 pages of documents, now declassified by the government, U.S. military investigators and German law enforcement authorities said they had no such evidence. The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001.

The Bush administration can’t be held accountable if they don’t let use become aware of their mistake. This guy might have spent the rest of his life in prison.

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