Monday, February 09, 2009

“Boo Hurrah”

Thanks to Manfred Nowak and Barack Obama, we can all look forward to a pre-9/11 terror cell reunion. John Rosenthal tells you why.

A first point that needs to be stressed is that a detainee’s being “cleared for release” by the Pentagon in no way implies that he was not in fact engaged in Jihad when he was captured. This is made clear by the example of Murat Kurnaz: perhaps the most celebrated of the ostensibly “innocent men” released from Guantánamo up to now. The Bremen-born Kurnaz was returned to Germany in 2006. But evidence presented before the intelligence oversight committee of the German Bundestag leaves scarce room for doubt that when he was picked up in the vicinity of Peshawar in November 2001, he was there to fight, exactly as US authorities maintained. (On Kurnaz, see my article here; and for a translated summary of the contents of his German police file, see here.)

About the remaining detainees, Manfred Nowak has glibly asserted that “very, very many” of them ended up in Guantánamo simply by virtue of having been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the erstwhile Qaeda operations planner and current Guantánamo resident, presumably knows better and he disagrees. In a March 10, 2007 Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing, Mohammed likewise pleaded for the release of many of his fellow detainees. But he by no means denied that they had been combatants. “When America invaded Afghanistan, they just arrive in Afghanistan cause the[y] hear there enemy,”
That’s okay, they’re still “innocent”, by emotive standards of the concept of truth at least. And y’know, the Europeans will take them, if only someone would ask.

For a great many reasons this is a bad idea. The least of which is the European past abetting, and by virtue of the embarrassment it will cause to jail ANY of them, the fact that they will simply release the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Nonetheless, the paradox that European leaders care less about the safety of their populations as they do an “emotive truth” simply to support past arguments is a real gas:
"Many past and present detainees were trained in terror camps in Afghanistan after 9/11. They obviously didn't go there as tourists to admire the scenery. These people are potential terrorists," German conservative deputy Hartmut Nassauer said.

But socialist and liberal leaders underlined the EU's moral imperative in supporting US President Barack Obama's move.

Not helping shut down Guantanamo "would be even worse than setting up the camp in the first place," socialist chief Martin Schulz said.
"Europe cannot stand back and shrug its shoulders and say these things are for America alone to sort out," liberal group leader Graham Watson said.
Even though in all likelihood because it requires something more than checkbook diplomacy, they will stand back and make new excuses for not doing the thing that no-one has yet to ask them to do.
The commissioner placed the burden of security on the US, which is to be responsible for checking that any EU-bound detainees do not pose a terrorism threat.
Which they do. But before then, they want someone else, anyone else to make true what they wish to be true: their fragile emotive truth.

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