Over the weekend, yet another hapless prisoner stuck at Guantanamo Bay for the last six years was determined to have been wrongly detained, this time by a
Over the weekend, yet another hapless prisoner stuck at Guantanamo Bay for the last six years was determined to have been wrongly detained, this time by a military panel that decided he “should no longer be deemed an enemy combatant.”
The panel’s decision was not publicly announced, but was reported Sunday by William Glaberson in The New York Times. Glaberson notes that this is just the most recent of two dozen such cases that have been decided over the last three months.
Last week, I reported on the case of Mohammed al-Gharani, who was ordered released after a federal judge determined there was insufficient evidence that, as the Bush administration argued, al-Gharani had been a member of al-Qaeda when he was 11-years-old, and a dangerous “enemy combatant” when American authorities arrested him in Pakistan at age 14. The evidence against him had come from two other prisoners at Gitmo that even the government had deemed unreliable.
In the latest case, lawyers for Haji Bismullah produced sworn statements from officials of the U.S.-backed Afghan government that revealed Bismullah had been named as a terrorist by Taliban collaborators who wanted to assume his role as a provincial official. It’s not clear why it took six years for a military panel to reach this decision, given that Bismullah’s case, and his status as an enemy combatant, was supposedly reviewed by military officials back in 2004. Lawyers for Gitmo prisoners have been claiming for several years now that many of their clients were accused by local political rivals or turned over to the United States and its allies for bounty money.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has claimed that the only prisoners left at Guantanamo Bay are “the worst of the worst.” Dick Cheney told ABC News just last week that “what we have left [at Gitmo] is the hardcore.” (Read the full transcript here, courtesy of the White House.)
Asked about the military panel’s decision in the Bismullah case, as the Afghan 29-year-old was flown home over the weekend, a Pentagon spokeswoman said: “Mr. Bismullah was lawfully detained as an enemy combatant based on the information that was available at the time.”
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