World skeptical over Guantanamo Bay ruling 3


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.

The camp came under worldwide condemnation shortly after it opened more than four years ago, when pictures captured prisoners kneeling, shackled and being herded into wire cages. It intensified after reports of prisoner abuse, heavy-handed interrogations, hunger strikes, suicides and accounts from released detainees who described years of desperation associated with the legal limbo that has ensnared hundreds of prisoners.

“In a diplomatic point of view, this (ruling) is going to increasingly marginalize the United States politically within those parts of the European Union that have always had misgivings about Guantanamo,” said Sonya Sceats, an international human rights law expert for Chatham House, a London-based think tank. “The decision will increase pressure on the European Union for the return of nationals remaining at Guantanamo Bay.”

Some EU leaders have called for detainees to be tried in the International Criminal Court, but the Bush administration has maintained that the men – accused of links to Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime or to al-Qaida – are enemy combatants, a classification that has afforded them fewer rights under the Geneva Conventions than if they were declared prisoners of war.

The EU has called for the camp’s closure, saying that prisoners were held in a legal vacuum.

Charles Parker, a terrorism researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, said the EU is likely to applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling that the military courts violated the Geneva Convention.

“It vindicates what they have been saying all along,” Parker said.

Bob Ayers, a homeland security and intelligence expert at Chatham House, predicted the ruling will have little impact.

“Basically I don’t think the decision is going to make any difference. The United States is not going to turn all of these people loose. The EU has not said, ‘Send them to us and we’ll house them for you.’ What is the solution?”

Amnesty International, one of the most vocal critics of the detention center, hailed the ruling.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling blocking the military commissions set up by President George W. Bush is a victory for the rule of law and human rights, the London-based group said.

The former Afghan ambassador to Pakistan under the Taliban, who spent almost four years in Guantanamo before being released in September, said the facility’s military tribunals were “an insult to humanity and human rights.”

“The Supreme Court must be neutral and must respect human rights. They must give justice,” Abdul Salam Zaeef said in the Afghan capital, Kabul. “It was a good decision to condemn Bush’s decision, which was not correct, not good.”

Lawyers for the handful of detainees who have been charged said the ruling could be the beginning of the end of the prison camp.

“There certainly will be some fallout from this, and it may very well lead to the closing of Guantanamo Bay in the near future,” said Army Maj. Tom Fleener, who represents Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul, a Yemeni.

“Just by the court ruling essentially that Guantanamo is not a lawless area and that we have to comply with Geneva Conventions, it’s going to change everything from how people are held to interrogation techniques that are used to the types of information they can have or can’t have.”

British lawmakers said the ruling could force the United States into a firm decision on the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo.

Mike Gapes, chairman of Britain’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, saw three options – “to release those who can be safely released, to prosecute others within properly and in accordance with U.S law and to send the rest back to their home countries, who can decide whether they should be prosecuted or not.”

Jose Diaz, spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the ruling.

“The decision is a case of restoring the judiciary to its proper place in a system of checks and balances, which is essential in upholding the rule of law,” he said.

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3 thoughts on “World skeptical over Guantanamo Bay ruling

  • Richard II

    Some breaking news:

    "U.S. Troops Accused of Killing Iraq Family":

    "BEIJI, Iraq (AP) — Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.

    "The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of raping.

    "Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.

    "…a soldier felt compelled to report the killings after his fellow soldiers' bodies were found.

    "…a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers…has admitted his role and has been arrested."

  • Richard II

    The first link no longer works.

    Here's a link to a longer article:

    You can always visit Associate Press's Web site and find an article there:

    However, if you're really desperate, visit the BBC's news Web site. Yup, they finally got wind of the story – God knows how! Maybe a BBC "reporter" heard about it down the pub.

    Each Iraqi life is worth a mere $2,000 – that's the average payout for murdering an innocent Iraqi.

    Not much of a disincentive for America to ensure soldiers behave.

    Blair clings to power despite his unpopularity. I can understand why some Iraqis resort to violence against the U.S. occupation. Blair and Bush despise democracy, and if you play fair, they'll interpret it as a sign of weakness, and destroy your life.

    Blair is one deeply disturbed individual.

    As is anyone who wants power!

  • Richard II

    Craig will probably make a main post about this soon.

    Turns out this wasn't a spur of the moment rape-murder – it was planned well in advance!

    No mention of how old these males were, except one was a child.

    The "mainstream" media will present this as just a few bad apples spoiling the barrel. What rubbish! I think many in 502nd Infantry Regiment knew about this. After all, one soldier said he heard about the incident – from whom, we're not told. Another said he overheard soldiers conspiring to commit the crime. How many more knew about it? Hatred of Arabs is rampant in the military, so killing a few of them is no big deal.

    The soldiers also came back with blood spattered on their uniform – proof, if anyone in the regiment needed it, that these individuals carried out their intentions.

    You enjoying this, Blair? Getting off on it, are you? No, of course you're not. You don't even know about it. You're just not interested!

    "According to a senior Army official, the alleged incident was first revealed by a soldier during a routine counseling-type session. The official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said that soldier did not witness the incident but heard about it.

    "A second soldier, who also was not involved, said he overhead soldiers conspiring to commit the crimes, and then later saw bloodstains on their clothes, the official said."

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