Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Washington Post Story Illustrates Injustice at Guantánamo

According to a recently released and well timed report in light of todays supreme court hearings, Murat Kurnaz, a combatant that was among the first to be brought to Gitmo, was considered innocent almost from the time he was picked up by the U.S.

A German intelligence officer said at the time (back in 2002) that the, "USA considers Murat Kurnaz's innocence to be proven," and "He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks." Years later Kurnaz was still at Gitmo.

The process is "fundamentally corrupted," said Baher Azmy, a professor at Seton Hall Law School who represents Kurnaz. "All of this just reveals that they had the wrong person and they knew it."

He added: "His entire file reveals he has no connection with terrorism. None. Confronted with this uncomfortable fact, the military panel makes up evidence" to justify its claim that only real terrorists are incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.

German and American intelligence officers interviewed Kurnaz in September 2002, records show. They jointly concluded that nothing was linking the man from Bremen to terrorist cells or enemy fighters and that he should be freed. In a memo dated May 19, 2003, the commanding general of the Criminal Investigation Task Force, a Pentagon intelligence unit that interrogates detainees and collects evidence about them, wrote that "CITF is not aware of evidence that Kurnaz was or is a member of al-Qaeda. CITF is not aware of any evidence that Kurnaz may have aided or abetted, or conspired to commit acts of terrorism."

In spite of this the government made up charges to claim that Kurnaz should be detained. They wrongly claimed that he knew someone involved with a suicide bombing and decided to keep him. Is it legal in our country to hold someone indefinitely because they know someone involved in a crime? Is this the American justice system that we want?

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Guantanamo Bay prisoners could not be held indefinitely without fact-finding by an objective tribunal, the Pentagon hastily assembled panels of field-grade officers to serve as Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Since they began, the panels have overwhelmingly supported continued detention of those at Guantanamo Bay, ruling that 534 detainees were "enemy combatants," while only 38 were not.

Clearly the review process at Guantanámo is flawed and biased. If these detainees are ever going to get a fair trial the supreme court will have to act today and make it clear that the executive branch is not above the laws of our constitution and our country.

To read the entire article click on the title.

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