Palau Agrees to Take the Uighurs, Who Never Thought They’d Be on a Boat
And so ends a demagoguery-laced vignette from the Age of Terrorism, as Daphne and Weigel have been all over: the tiny Pacific archipelago of Palau has agreed to “resettl[e] and repatriat[e]” the 17 Uighur detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay whom the Bush administration no longer considered enemy combatants. Having no basis under which to detain the Uighurs, and being prevented from sending them back to China where they’d likely be tortured, both the Bush and the Obama administrations had little idea what to do with the Uighurs. Some in the Uighur community in Northern Virginia initially agreed to take in the detainees, but that proposal met loud objections from Republican members of Congress — joined by fearful Virgina Democratic politicians like Sen. Jim Webb — who transmogrified the freeing of the Uighurs into an imaginary Obama administration plot to have Khalid Shaikh Mohammed rent the foreclosed house in your exurban cul-de-sac.
Daniel Fried, the State Department’s Guantanamo troubleshooter, worked out a deal with Palau earlier today, according to The New York Times, to take an unspecified but substantial number of the 17 Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay, making other a-la-carte resettlement efforts easier:
One administration official said that if Palau agreed to take “a large chunk” of the 17, it would be easier to find homes for the rest, either in Australia, Germany or the United States. Australia and Germany already have Uighur populations, making those countries obvious candidates.
Australia recently agreed to review a request to accept some Uighurs, after twice rejecting from the United States. Germany has been reluctant to accept any detainees unless the United States takes some, too.
So there’s a silver lining for the demagogues: maybe one Uighur whom the Bush administration didn’t consider an enemy combatant will end up in Virginia. Keep some cash on hand for a quick ad buy.
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