As an entering argument, I used Capt. Ed's guidance to look for, "..interesting tidbits that either support oppose the detention of the detainees involved.” and “Does the government have cause to hold the prisoners based on the information inside these files” to mean if we should hold these anymore. I am assuming that given the situation in last 2001 early 2002 that these were kept with a “better safe than sorry” point of view.
One note, any “No” that I have should have a big astrisk next to it. We don’t know what is in the classified evidence. We have to assume, and I know some folks on the Tribunals – they are good folks, that if we are keeping someone that otherwise is innocent, it is because of what is in the classified information.
To better tell this story after reading through the 20 cases, I added a few graphs to include “Nationality” and “Captured.” The Nationality is self explanatory (Arab is for the two who are Arab, but the nationality is uncertain).
There are some very interesting stories. Two serious, two funny.
- 579: Former Taliban Governor of Herat. Did interviews for VOA and BBC. Originally we should have kept him, but now? No. No one saw him pull a trigger. We have another Taliban diplomat….at Yale afterall.
- 535: Egyptian national and former member of Bosnian Army and resident of Bosnia. Fluent English. Taught weapons and explosives as a “contractor.” BS in Geology. Friendy, cooperative. We should keep him forever, unless he becomes a Jesuit.
- 252: He wants refugee status and be allowed to emigrate to the US.
- 496: "Brokeback Hindu-Kush?" "Midnight Taliban?" "My Own Private Kandahar?" Don't know. Claims to have worked for Taliban Intel as a cook (again)...but the story is much better. A few quotes,
"I was a pretty boy." "...they told me I didn't have enough of a beard and that I was a pretty boy." "I asked them what kind of friendship or cooperation did they want? They wanted me to take care of their friends and prepare food and cleanup. I told them I would do this instead of going to court (he owed money). I was young and they were looking for boys like me an paid good money." "When my boss saw my brother and nephew, my boss asked me who they were and why are they here? I am telling you this very hesitantly and this is something that has to be kept a secret because this is a shame in the Afghan culture to disclose this type of information. There were no other motives or anything else going on besides what I am telling you." "There were rumors between the workers that I was the new boss' lover." "I can't exactly tell you what they wanted, but you should have been able to figure it out by now. I know they had a reason to treat me so well."Recurring themes:
- Roughly 10% mention their involvement with drugs.
- Many more did not have passports or other documentation with them. We really don’t know who they are – and some claim to be misidentified.
The inability to see the classified information makes me wary to believe many of the stories. To paraphrase a quote from Full Metal Jacket,
“Those who admit it, are Taliban or Al Qaeda. Those who deny it, are well trained Taliban or Al Qaeda."In some of the interviews (#572 specifically), some Tribunal members showed a complete lack of clue about the gun culture of Southwest Asia. In that part of the world, going around with an AK-47 is not only normal, it is essential. You would think that military personnel who come from a country where the Common Law right to defend yourself is enshrined in their Constitution would understand that. Afghanistan makes the Wild West of the 1870s look like a Cotillion.
It would seem that the Afghanistan nationals, especially those captured by the Northern Alliance or Afghan Forces and were simply trigger pullers, should be repatriated or turned over to the national authorities. After all, we have a Taliban diplomat at Yale (again).
This war is generational. If we are going to hold these people, we need to make sure we only keep the true terrorists. If we hold them, they will be with us until they die.