The Guantánamo Files: Additional Chapters Online – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis)

12.7.08

The Guantanamo FilesI’ve just posted the fourth of 12 additional online chapters supplementing my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press). This chapter features stories that I could not include in the book, either for reasons of space (to keep the book at a manageable length) or, in some cases, because the information was not available at the time of writing.

This additional chapter complements Chapter 6 of The Guantánamo Files, looking at the stories of 22 Saudi prisoners not mentioned in the book. They were amongst the 250 or so prisoners (almost one-third of Guantánamo’s entire population) who were captured crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001. In the next online chapter I’ll be looking at the stories of the Yemenis captured at the same time.

This is an anniversary of sorts, as this is my 250th post since I first began blogging about Guantánamo last May, and I’m delighted to be able to report that, since I posted the last online chapter two months ago, the sins of the executive with regard to the “War on Terror” (indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial, and without an adequate screening process), as mandated by a spineless Congress, have been resolutely challenged by the judiciary.

Last month, fed up with the administration’s persistent refusal to grant the prisoners a fair hearing to ascertain whether there was, in fact, any reason to hold them, the Supreme Court, which had first granted the prisoners habeas corpus rights in June 2004, only to have them removed by Congress, reinstated their habeas corpus rights, but this time grounded them in the US Constitution, beyond the whims of the executive and the politicians.

Two weeks later, the Court of Appeals, examining the first of many cases that had been on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision, ruled decisively in favor of a Chinese prisoner, Huzaifa Parhat, stating that the tribunal which determined that he was an “enemy combatant,” who could be held indefinitely, was “invalid,” and deriding the government’s evidence as being akin to the nonsense poetry of Lewis Carroll.

And today, in the Washington Post, an article about New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer’s forthcoming book, The Dark Side, explains why these verdicts are so important, dealing another blow to the validity of the tribunal process, and reinforcing what I discovered during my research for The Guantánamo Files: that the overwhelming majority of the prisoners were either innocent men or Taliban foot soldiers with no knowledge of al-Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks.

Mayer describes the findings of a classified CIA report which, as the Post describes it, was “prepared in the summer of 2002 by a senior CIA analyst who was invited to the prison camp in Cuba to help Defense Department officials grapple with a major problem: They were gleaning very little useful information from the roughly 600 detainees in custody at the time.” After studying the prisoners’ cases, the analyst concluded that a third of them “had no connection with terrorism whatsoever.” The article continues: “Many were essentially bystanders who had been swept up in dragnets or turned over to the US military by bounty hunters.” Mayer adds that, when the findings were reported to Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, Guantánamo’s commander, Dunlavey “not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions — up to half — were in error.”

Mayer also explains why no action was taken to free all these wrongly imprisoned men, laying the blame squarely on Vice President Dick Cheney’s senior counsel (and now Chief of Staff), David Addington. Describing Addington as “adamant and imperious” (as all who have studied his recent testimony before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee can confirm), Mayer quotes him as saying, “There will be no review. The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.”

Keep David Addington in mind as you read this latest online chapter.

Note: The first three additional chapters are available here, here and here, and see the left-hand column for the other eight.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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