Guantanamo detainees will be released...

Just last week, we heard that the Pentagon was planning to release 141 prisoners who were determined to "pose no threat"

But now, the NY Times reports this:


"The Pentagon has no plans to release any detainees in the immediate future," said a Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon of the Navy. He said the negotiations with foreign governments "have proven to be a complex, time-consuming and difficult process."
The negotiations are in regards to assurances that detainees will not be tortured when repatriated. The sudden concern for human rights is apparently based on State Department pressure:
According to a State Department human rights report released in March, the Saudi authorities have used "beatings, whippings and sleep deprivation" on Saudi and foreign prisoners. The report also noted "allegations of beatings with sticks and suspension from bars by handcuffs."
Hunh. That sounds familiar. Guantanamo detainees have been enduring this and worse while being held at the base in Cuba. But as the State Department wrings its hands over human rights, many Guantanamo prisoners are in such a dire condition psychologically that they are repeatedly trying to commit suicide.

The State Department is calling for "clear assurances that the prisoners will not be tortured and will be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law, and that those pledges can be verified." That has led to a stalemate in terms of "how those commitments should be formalized and monitored." (Note that there is no such concern about the assurances that the CIA supposedly gets on those it sends to "black sites" around the world.)

It looks like the State Department is trying to flex some muscle here, and the Pentagon is happily dragging its feet. What incentive do they have, after all, to allow detainees (the majority of whom are innocent judging by the DoD's own stats) illegally held and tortured for over four years, to speak freely?

"My Guantanamo Diary," written by law student Mahvish Khan, ran the same day as the NY Times article. It's a great first-person account of her experience as a translator for lawyers in Guantanamo, and brings some humanity to the all-too abstract notion of the war on terrorism.

Some excerpts:
I've now been down a total of nine times. And each time, I'm struck by the ordinariness of Guantanamo Bay, the startling disconnect between the beauty of the surroundings and the evil they mask…I've listened to Wali Mohammed protest that he was just a businessman trying to get along in Taliban-run Afghanistan. I've watched Chaman Gul, crouched in his 7-by-8-foot cage, weep for fear that his family will forget him. I've marveled at the pluck and wit of Taj Mohammad, a 27-year-old uneducated goat herder who has taught himself fluent English while in Cuba.
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