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Records Give Voice to Guantanamo Detainees

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20050409/D89BN9CO0.html Records Give Voice to Guantanamo Detainees Apr 9, 2:22 AM (ET) By PETE YOST and MATT KELLEY WASHINGTON
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 10, 2005

      Records Give Voice to Guantanamo Detainees

      Apr 9, 2:22 AM (ET)


      WASHINGTON (AP) - In a development the Bush
      administration had hoped to avoid, the stories of
      about 60 detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Naval
      Base have spilled out in court papers.

      A U.S. college-educated detainee asks plaintively in
      one: "Is it possible to see the evidence in order to
      refute it?"

      In another transcript, the unidentified president of a
      U.S. military tribunal bursts out: "I don't care about
      international law. I don't want to hear the words
      'international law' again. We are not concerned with
      international law."

      Expressing defiance in some instances and stoic
      acceptance of their fate in others, the once-nameless
      and still-largely faceless detainees appeared last
      year before tribunals that, after quick reviews,
      declared they were unlawful enemy combatants who could
      be held indefinitely.

      The government is holding about 550 terrorism suspects
      at the Navy base in Cuba. An additional 214 have been
      released since the prison opened in January 2002 -
      some into the custody of their home governments,
      others freed outright.

      Little information about them has been released
      through official channels. But stories of 60 or more
      are spelled out in detail in thousands of pages of
      transcripts filed in U.S. District Court in
      Washington, where lawsuits challenging their
      detentions have been filed.

      Omar Rajab Amin, a Kuwaiti who graduated from the
      University of Nebraska in 1992, wanted to see the
      evidence. The tribunal president - the de facto judge
      for the proceeding - said he could review only
      unclassified evidence.

      Some of the exchanges grew heated.

      "You are not the master of the Earth, sir," Saifullah
      Paracha, a Pakistani businessman, told a tribunal

      Feroz Ali Abbasi was ejected from his September
      hearing because he repeatedly challenged the legality
      of his detention.

      "I have the right to speak," Abbasi said.

      "No, you don't," the tribunal president replied.

      The tribunal found Abbasi to have been "deeply
      involved" in the al-Qaida terror network. Yet four
      months later, the government released him, saying his
      home country of Britain would keep an eye on him.

      The Guantanamo detainees come from about 40 countries
      and were picked up mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan
      following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The
      administration designate them as enemy combatants.

      In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled last
      June that the detainees may challenge their
      imprisonment. The Pentagon responded nine days later
      by creating the tribunals and pushing through reviews
      of everyone at Guantanamo by year's end.

      A military spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Beci Brenton, said
      Friday the Pentagon believes the tribunals allow for
      the review under the court ruling and that each
      detainee received "a fair opportunity to contest their

      Administration officials contend the prisoners are not
      entitled to the internationally accepted legal
      protections given prisoners of war.

      In the filings, some detainees seemed stunned by the
      speed of the process.

      "How long will it take before you decide the results
      of this tribunal?" one asked.

      "We should have a decision today," the tribunal
      president replied.

      The tribunals brought out previously unknown
      information regarding the war on terror.

      In one proceeding, the government identified detainee
      Juma Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dosari as an al-Qaida
      recruiter who persuaded six Yemeni-Americans in
      suburban Buffalo, N.Y., to join the terrorist group.

      The tribunal also disclosed that Dosari had been
      questioned by Saudi Arabian authorities about the
      Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 that killed 19 members
      of the U.S. Air Force.

      Several detainees told the three-member tribunals they
      had been mistreated or tortured. They complained about
      the evidence, too.

      "You believe anyone that gives you any information,"
      said detainee Mohammed Mohammed Hassen, who was
      arrested in Pakistan. "What if that person made a
      mistake? Maybe that person looked at me and confused
      me with someone else."

      The unclassified evidence against Hassen, 24, was that
      a senior al-Qaida lieutenant had identified his
      picture as that of someone he might have seen in

      The tribunals also had access to classified evidence
      that the detainees were not allowed to see, a key
      reason a federal judge said in January there were
      constitutional problems with the tribunals. An appeals
      court is considering that issue.


      On the Net:

      Documents from court proceedings for many of the
      detainees are available at:
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