LONDON – Some saw the beginning of the end for Guantanamo Bay, others a vindication for Europeans who have condemned the U.S. prison camp. Still others saw a toothless ruling that will ultimately make no difference in a climate where they believe Washington is determined to have its way.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military trials for a handful of Guantanamo Bay detainees provoked a range of reactions, from jubilation to deep skepticism.
In immediate terms, the decision will simply force the United States to look for other ways to try some 10 men charged with crimes. But some people saw wider implications – predicting it could force the Bush administration to address the continued detention of about 430 others, many held for more than four years without charge.
“A lot of us remain skeptical of what this decision will actually accomplish because it only applies to the handful of men who have been charged and Bush has not respected past court decisions,” said Moazamm Begg, 37, who was held at Guantanamo for more than two years. “That said, I’m very glad to hear the news and hope it will be the beginning of the end for many of these men.”
The camp has been a delicate diplomatic issue between the United States and Europe, where Britain’s Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith said America had betrayed its own principles of freedom, liberty and justice.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had also called for the camp’s closure. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush’s closest ally in the war against terror, even called the camp an anomaly.