Sunday, October 4, 2009

Closing Gitmo

One of President Obama's big promises was that he was going to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But, as has been the case with many things, this is not as easy as he thought it would be. 117 Saudis and 197 Afghans have been released from the prison, but the big question has been "What to do with those Yemenis?"

It appears that the government in Yemen isn't too great at its job as 23 terrorism suspects "escaped" in 2006, which "shook confidence in Yemen's counterterrorism capabilities." I'll bet... So our government doesn't want to send the Yemenis back to Yemen. We sure don't want them living here, and Europe isn't exactly salivating to take any of them, either. Well, I take that back. I think the president of France said they would take ONE as a gesture of goodwill many moons ago.

Our government's solution to this Yemeni problem has thus far been to try and get the Saudis to take them into their "rehabilitation program." Saudi officials aren't too interested in taking them because they're worried about more negative publicity to their program (like last February when almost a dozen of their "graduates" turned up on a list of most-wanted terrorists). Apparently they only have faith that their program will work if the people enrolled are not already terrorists, but one has to wonder what they're rehabilitating if that's the case.

The New York Times highlighted these issues and others when writing about the case of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed (also known as Internee Security No. 692 - probably because it was easier to say). He finally left Gitmo last week after being a resident there for seven years. A federal judge ruled that holding him had never been justified and ordered the government to release him back in May.

You wonder what took them so long to follow the judge's orders, right? I mean, these are the people, after all, who were so vocal about how wrong it was that Gitmo was even in existence! Perhaps it was because they couldn't get over the detainee's name? Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed IS quite a mouthful, I'll grant you that. But no - this was not the issue. The Obama administration was worried because "Even if Mr. Ahmed was not dangerous in 2002, Guantanamo itself might have radicalized him, exposing him to militants and embittering him against the United States." (This is code for: if this comes back to bite us in the a**, it's Bush's fault.) Supposedly, if they returned him to his home country of Yemen, he would run the risk of falling into the hands of Al Qaeda there.

See, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed was simply attending a university in Pakistan, innocently studying religion and science while living in a guesthouse that was being used by terrorist operatives. (It's interesting to note that the NYT was capable of putting "religion and science" together as long as the guy was studying Islam.) Four of his fellow prisoners reported having seen him fighting or undergoing training in Afghanistan, but these accounts were found to be flawed by the judge and thrown out. Our government had a theory on terrorist activists and their patterns... their theory is called a "mosaic theory" in which "the pattern of indications of terrorist ties added up to a strong case." Basically, this is saying that if someone consistently hangs out with terrorists, funds their activities, fights with them, and lives with them, they just might be a terrorist.

**Of course, after this last presidential election, we all know this theory to be completely false because a man can hang out with radicals, train ACORN workers, hire communists, and have as mentors the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and various other communist thinkers -- but this does not make him a radical or mean that he has any ties to ACORN whatsoever.**

So Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed has been sent back to Yemen. He was greeted by his family at the capital and all appears to be... well, what it is. One down, 97 to go. Yes, 97 more Yemenis to put somewhere... somehow.

So now the American government is considering cooperating with the Yemeni government to build a rehabilitation program in Yemen much like the Saudis have. Christopher Boucek is cited in the NYT column as an "expert," and is quoted as saying, "It won't be quick and it will cost some money, but I think it may be the best choice among a bunch of not very good alternatives."

Christopher Boucek is an "expert" on Yemen because that is his job at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I am not altogether unimpressed with his writings and his conclusions, but I must admit I fail to see how his studying and coming to said conclusions will actually help in achieving "International Peace."

What I find fascinating is the fact that the NYT has found this gentleman now -- when Obama is in office -- to explain why it's so difficult to close Gitmo. Because when Bush was in office he kept Gitmo open because he was just a heartless bastard who enjoyed torturing people.

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