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'Obama at impasse over Guantanamo'
Tue, 26 Apr 2011 06:39:38 GMT
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As if it wasn't bad enough that the US President Barack Obama did not keep his pledge to close down the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp, he now has to deal with published Wikileaks classified documents that hundreds of the prison's inmates were actually innocent.

In an interview with Paul Wolf, a human rights and international lawyer in Washington, PressTV further discusses the issue of these prisoners.

PressTV: Before getting into the detail of these documents: What do you think of the timing of the release, and the fact that this was a coordinated release from the Washington Post, the Guardian, NPR, and the New York Times?

Wolf: Well, I think the same thing. It can't be a coincident that all these newspapers published this information on the exact same day. So I think there are two possibilities. One is that WikiLeaks just obtained the information which suggested Bradley Manning was not the source because of course he's been incarcerated for year now and he is held incommunicado, even the human rights commissioner is denied access to visit him.

So, here is either leak from some other person or else WikiLeaks has just released to these newspapers. So why this would be occurring right now we don't know. Just one month ago, President Obama stated that he issued an executive order stating that these kinds of prisoners can be held indefinitely without any charge. So now that official US policy contradicts its previous statements and even rulings from US Supreme court saying they were entitled to habeas corpus proceedings. So there is certainly coordinated released information and I would leave it to yourself or anyone else to guess what might be the reason for that.

PressTV: Do you think that Guantanamo is a unit to show that the US administration is doing something about 9/11?

Wolf: I think much of this can be traced to George Bush as President Obama said. You know what has been posted on the internet by WikiLeaks are individual dossiers of these detainees. So for each one of them you can see picture of him, you can see what is his background what did he tell the authorities when he was interrogated and why are they holding him.

Generally speaking, these people are held because someone else has indicated that there is a member of an insurgent group or al-Qaeda. What is important about that evidence is that it's not sufficient to hold up in court.
So we know that only two people, that is David Hicks and John Walker Lindh have been convicted and in fact both of them pled guilty. The majority of the people who have foul habeas corpus proceedings have all been let out of jail. So there isn't even reason for holding them for trial and the first person who will go to trial is the child soldier Omar Khadr. So even for those detainees for which there is some basis for holding them is an extremely flimsy basis that would not hold up in court, but these people are still deemed too dangerous to let out them to the public.

PressTV: In an official statement to NPR and The New York Times, the Obama administration defended the system for processing detainees and said : “both administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority” So under this pretext: the US can do anything? What is this top priority in terms of national security for America?

Wolf: Well, I agree. I think that the argument that is often made by politicians is that since there has not been another attack in the last ten years comparable to the attack on the World Trade Center in Pentagon, this strategy has worked.

And that is really a very false argument. I think the proper argument is how many similar attacks have been foiled and the answer in none. The only attacks that have really been foiled, have been armature type of things, not to downplay some terrorist attacks in other countries namely in India and in the UK. But I think it's pretty clear that these people who picked up and held in Guantanamo Bay where essentially insurgents; there were people who had been in Afghanistan, others not denying that those people in that part of the world who have been training in military camps. But whether these individuals were themselves members of those organizations, each of them are entitled to trial and to defend themselves and not to be held incommunicado and without legal representation and for most of them habeas corpus rights.

There is one other minor point that I would like to add to what's been said and that is that essentially why Guantanamo Bay has not been closed and the reason that I believe that has not been closed is because number one; there is no solution in the United States. President Obama is not going to let them out. He he is not going to give all of them a trial. You know you have to set trial in a certain period of time.

So, no state is going to take these prisoners into their own prison system. So I think there is a kind of impasse there and Obama essentially does not know what to do and that is why he has issued this executive order, saying that essentially giving his authorization to holding these people indefinitely without a trial.


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