This Is Why We Have The Word Kafkaesque

by Belle Waring on August 24, 2005

From the Washington Post today, a supremely depressing tale of 15 Uighur men trapped in Guantanamo:

All 15 Uighurs have actually been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay twice, once after a Pentagon review in late 2003 and again last March, U.S. officials said….

Even after the second decision, however, the government did not notify the 15 men for several months that they had been cleared. “They clearly were keeping secret that these men were acquitted. They were found not to be al Qaeda and not to be Taliban,” Willett said. “But the government still refused to provide a transcript of the tribunal that acquitted them to the detainees, their new lawyers or a U.S. court.”

Let’s give the government some nano-credit in that it recognizes that these men will be imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese government if returned. But they’re still pretty badly overdrawn at the moral bank:

In the meantime, the men are still treated as prisoners. Sabin P. Willett, a Boston lawyer who volunteered to take the cases of two Uighurs in March, finally met with them last month, after he and his team went through their own FBI clearances. One of the Uighurs was “chained to the floor” in a “box with no windows,” Willett said in an Aug. 1 court hearing.

Relatedly, this account of prison life in Iraq is not one to inspire confidence:

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, the military said it has arrested more than 40,000 people…. The average incarceration at Bucca is a year. The military attributes the surge in detentions to an increase in combat operations and the inability of the nascent Iraqi justice system to handle the crushing caseload.

Many of the freed detainees express bewilderment at why they were held; even the U.S. commander who oversees Bucca, Col. Austin Schmidt, 55, of Fairfax, estimated that one in four prisoners “perhaps were just snagged in a dragnet-type operation” or were victims of personal vendettas.

“This is like Chicago in the ’30s: You don’t like somebody, you drop a dime on them,” Schmidt said. “And by the time the Iraqi court system figures it out, they go home. But it takes a while.”

Well, just 25%…



Idiot/Savant 08.24.05 at 7:17 am

If they fear persecution if returned home, and the US government agrees with that assessment (for once taking its CAT obligations seriously), it sounds as if they’d have an excellent case for refugee status.


nick 08.24.05 at 8:39 am

It was noted early on that China would take advantage of the ‘global war on terrorism’ bullshit to intensify its campaign against the Uighurs. And it found a willing accomplice.


almostinfamous 08.24.05 at 9:59 am

not to mention uzbekikitty.


Jonathan Goff 08.24.05 at 11:35 am

I’m sure it is just 25%, not any more. I mean, don’t you trust these guys? They’re from the government, they’re here to help….


Shelby 08.24.05 at 1:13 pm

And it found a willing accomplice.

No, US officials are quoted in the story saying the reason the prisoners are still being held is because of fears China would torture them if they were sent home. That doesn’t excuse this whole sorry mess, but it’s not being done to aid-and-abet China’s oppression of the Uighurs.


rollo 08.26.05 at 4:06 pm

Shelby, you are a shining example and an inspiration to all of us who grow more confused and anxious by the day.

US officials are quoted in the story saying … it’s not being done to aid-and-abet…

The discussion is about whether or not these men are responsible for the torture and inhumane treatment of some of their fellow human beings.
They say no, they’re worried about what will happen to their captives after they’re released. So they aren’t letting them go.
And that’s that right there. All done. No worries.
They aren’t bad people.
We asked them, and they said they weren’t.
Good night, Shelby.

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