Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Returning to the topic of detainees

Col. Janis Karpinski was interviewed on Democracy Now! this morning. The interview is worth listening to, if you have the hour to sit at your computer. There is a partial transcript up, but unfortunately, it doesn't include the end of the interview. As I recall while listening in the car this morning, Col. Karpinski had occassion to ask someone when the "detainees" at Guantanamo would be released, and she was told "never."

UPDATE: Full transcript now available. Here is the relevant passage:

JANIS KARPINSKI: The only person that I spoke to individually after General Miller's visit – briefing, his in-brief, that initial briefing, I went to find the JAG officer, the legal officer, lawyer, who was with General Miller, and she was -- I believe she was a major and she had been working down at Guantanamo Bay. So, I asked her, I said, “What are you doing about releasing the prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay?” And she said, “Ma'am, we're not releasing prisoners. Most of those prisoners are going to spend every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay. They're terrorists. We're not releasing them.” And I said, “Well, what are you going to do? Fly their family members over to visit them?” She said “No, these are terrorists, ma'am. They don't get visits from home.” And that was -- that was absolutely shocking, thinking about the fate of these, what we believed was, several hundred prisoners down there, 680 prisoners spending every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay, and particularly important because that meant that military police would be guarding them for the foreseeable future.
Aside from the simple administrative issue (how many guards will we need for the lifetime of those prisoners, and what kind of committment to a prison are we making, or is being made for us?), there is the simple legal issue: since when did the President have the authority of the legislative and the judicial branches of government?

How many of us know how many prisoners are in Gitmo, or how long they will be held? Make no mistake: we may be ignorant of this situation in America (find me one major media outlet that has run even one story on this topic, or made this "condition of non-release" clear), but it is well known in the world.

And if more of the world, especially the "middle eastern "world, turns against us, will we continue to be as amazed as Thomas Friedman that they hate us?

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