Saturday, June 14, 2008

Returning to The Battlefield.... The Myth Lives On

In March of 2007 I wrote a piece for HuffingtonPost on the Myth of the return to the battlefield. I started out by saying:

Why bother to do fact checking when it is so much easier to just write down whatever you are told? Every time I read or hear about the ever-changing number of Guantánamo prisoners that have "returned to the battlefield" I try to research this issue yet again. The Pentagon, Cheney, Rumsfeld and various others have, at different times, claimed that 12, 4, 15, 10, 7 and even twenty-some Guantánamo prisoners have "returned to the battlefield." The administration and the military frequently use this "fact" to bolster their rationale for keeping the Guantánamo facility open. However, when asked for the identities of these men things get a little hazy... for some reason they don't want to tell us. They want us to just trust them on this one... Been there, done that. Since the government provides few specifics to support this claim it is hard to challenge them. That should not mean however that journalists have to keep covering the lies as though they are true.

I then went on to check the facts.... click on the title if you are interested in knowing.

One thing has changed in the intervening fifteen months. One man, who had been cleared by the military and released three years ago was involved in a suicide bombing a month or so ago. I guess it was bound to happen...that one of the men held at Guantanamo would eventually be involved in violence. But again, and despite Scalia's great fear of the men held at Guantanamo, this is the only man we know of who actually was set free and engaged in violence. I for one find this pretty amazing.

More than 500 men have been quietly released from Guantanamo in the middle of the night and sent home. Why? Because they should not have been held by us in the first place. These are men who were picked up in return for bounties. The military's own records confirm that the vast majority of them were no where near a battlefield. In fact, our military often didn't even know their names or what they were accused of doing. Frankly, we didn't care. Our government wanted it to look like we were doing something.

Our Supreme Court has spoken and as a friend of mine pointed out "I hope that people will take careful notice of the court's words. A fragile line was drawn between freedom and tyranny." It is time we take our fragile line and try to move forward as a country.