Public Forum: A society ruled by law?
Hearing of Saddam Hussein's death, President Bush solemnly proclaimed, "Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial... This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rul...
Hearing of Saddam Hussein's death, President Bush solemnly proclaimed, "Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial... This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law."
We are approaching the fifth anniversary, on Jan. 11, of the arrival of the first prisoners at Guantanamo. During the past five years more than 775 have been held at Guantanamo. Donald Rumsfeld described these people as "the worst of the worst" and in 2005 he said, "These are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield."
Law professor Mark Denbreaux, using Defense Department data, has issued a profile that doesn't match Rumsfeld's "worst of the worst." According to Denbreaux, 55 percent are not determined to have committed hostile acts. Eight percent were characterized as al-Qaida fighters. Only 5 percent were captured by Americans; 86 percent were arrested by Pakistan or Northern Alliance and turned over to U.S. forces -- at a time when America was paying large bounties for suspected enemies.
A report by Corine Hegland in the National Journal tells about arrests in Pakistan "in targeted raids on senior al-Qaida leaders. The senior suspects captured in these raids immediately disappeared into CIA custody -- they are not at Guantanamo. But their lesser companions... were delivered to Cuba." It would seem that Rumsfeld was as mistaken about his detainee description as he was about the number of troops needed for Iraq.
By Dec. 18, 379 prisoners were released without any charges. Although they had spent years in prison, they were never told why they were "detained." Investigators have stated they could develop "credible cases" against 100 of the 775 detainees -- but some had been released so maybe 70 will stand trial. Coerced testimony can be used under the Military Commission Act.
Since there are not "credible cases" against the others, deprived of habeas corpus by the MCA, they can spend the rest of their lives in detention without trial.
So, according to Bush, the Iraqis want a society ruled by law! When will we?