The National Journal has been looking at the prisoners still remaining at Guantanamo Bay, and what they are finding should make all of us who are Americans ashamed. And afraid, because it is likely that our evil behavior as a nation will come back to haunt us down the road. In the long run being evil is a loser's strategy. Bush is turning American into a loser, both morally and economically.
In 3 articles by Corine Hegland and a summary by Stuart Taylor Jr, they have exposed the astonishing extent of the Bush Administrations lying about the captives at Guantanamo. Hegland's three articles are Empty Evidence and Guantanamo's Grip and Who is at Guantanamo? Taylor article is Falsehoods about Guantanamo
"These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms ... but they were there to kill."
-- President Bush, June 20, 2005
"These detainees are dangerous enemy combatants....They were picked up on the battlefield, fighting American forces, trying to kill American forces."
-- White House press secretary Scott McClellan, June 21, 2005
"The people that are there are people we picked up on the battlefield, primarily in Afghanistan. They're terrorists. They're bomb makers. They're facilitators of terror. They're members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban....We've let go those that we've deemed not to be a continuing threat. But the 520-some that are there now are serious, deadly threats to the United States."
-- Vice President Cheney, June 23, 2005
"These are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden's] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker."
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, June 27, 2005
Taylor writes: "These quotes are representative of countless assertions by administration officials over the past four years that all -- or the vast majority -- of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are Qaeda terrorists or Taliban fighters captured on "the battlefield."
. . .
The assertions have been false. And those quoted above came long after the evidence of their falsity should have been manifest to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their subordinates.
. . .
A high percentage, perhaps the majority, of the 500-odd men now held at Guantanamo were not captured on any battlefield, let alone on "the battlefield in Afghanistan" (as Bush asserted) while "trying to kill American forces" (as McClellan claimed).
Fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members.
Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans.
The majority were not captured by U.S. forces but rather handed over by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability.
These locals had strong incentives to tar as terrorists any and all Arabs they could get their hands on as the Arabs fled war-torn Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002 -- including noncombatant teachers and humanitarian workers. And the Bush administration has apparently made very little effort to corroborate the plausible claims of innocence detailed by many of the men who were handed over.
. . .
My estimates above are based largely on extrapolation from Hegland's analysis of these 132 federal court files. They appear to be reasonably representative of the men still at Guantanamo; certainly, the government has given no indication that its evidence is any weaker in these 132 cases than in the other 370 or so.
It is, therefore, quite remarkable to learn (from Hegland) that well over half (75) of the 132 are not even accused of fighting the United States or its allies on any battlefield in post-9/11 Afghanistan or anywhere else.
Indeed, only 35 percent of them (more precisely, of the 115 whose court files specify the locus of capture) were seized in Afghanistan; 55 percent were picked up by Pakistanis in Pakistan.
. . .
The tribunal hearings, based largely on such guilt-by-association logic, have been travesties of unfairness. The detainees are presumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence -- without help from lawyers and without being permitted to know the details and sources of the evidence against them. This evidence is almost entirely hearsay from people without firsthand knowledge and statements from other detainees desperate to satisfy their brutally coercive interrogators.
. . .
The Pentagon responded then that Guantanamo was an oasis of "humane" treatment.
Last July, the Pentagon elaborated in a report of an investigation into complaints by FBI agents of abusive interrogation methods. Many of these methods -- such as shackling detainees to the floor for hours in painful positions, keeping them shivering cold during interrogations, grilling them for 16 hours nonstop, waking them up by moving them every few hours, using loud music and strobe lights -- had been officially approved as "humane," the Pentagon report explained.
Bush has also pledged that the Guantanamo detainees are treated "humanely." At the same time, he has stressed, "I know for certain ... that these are bad people" -- all of them, he has implied.
If the president believes either of these assertions, he is a fool. If he does not, choose your own word for him."
My word would be "criminal". And not just Bush, but Cheney and Rumsfeld and Gonzales and Yoo and a host of others. But when I consider the U. S. Constitution a different group of words come to mind: betrayers, traitors, destroyers of the goodness and the dream of America.