07 October 2008

Guantanamo Detainees To Be Released Into The U.S.

Yes, you read that correctly. U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina has issued a ruling to release 17 Uighur detainees to Uighur families in the Washington D.C. area.

A federal judge yesterday ordered a small band of Chinese Muslims being held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison released into the United States by Friday, rejecting the Bush administration's contention that it could detain them indefinitely without cause.

It was the first time a U.S. judge has ordered the release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, and the first time a foreign national held at the facility in Cuba has been ordered transferred to the United States.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina issued his ruling in dramatic fashion from the bench in a packed courtroom, saying he was ordering the release of 17 Uighurs because the government provided no proof that they were enemy combatants or security risks. Under the order, the men will live with Uighur families in the Washington area until a more permanent situation can be found.
So, if the Uighurs are no longer considered enemy combatants, then why don't we send them back to China?

Uighurs cannot be sent to their homeland because the Chinese government considers them terrorists and might torture them. The United States sent five Uighurs to Albania in 2006, but no other country wants to risk offending China by accepting the others.
See, people like Judge Urbina won't send Uighurs (who were in training camps in Afghanistan in 2001) back to their native China, he won't allow us to continue to detain the Uighurs until we can find a country that is willing to take them, but he will release them into the United States. He is a U.S. District Judge who appears to be more concerned about the so-called rights of those who were training at terrorist camps in Afghanistan, than he is about the safety of U.S. citizens.

If this is how the district courts are going to act, then we need to change how we deal with these individuals on the battlefield or in hostile areas. The Uighurs fled the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan when U.S. bombing began in 2001, and crossed the border into Pakistan. The Pakistanis then captured them and turned them over to us. In similar instances in the future, we will need to interrogate them while in foreign custody, and then leave them in the custody of those who captured them. We have no responsibility to take them into U.S. custody so that they will be safer, and by doing so, putting the safety of U.S. citizens at risk in the event that U.S. courts order those unsavory characters released into the general U.S. population.

And, when we encounter these unsavory characters on the battlefield, and they are in violation of the Geneva Conventions because they are not wearing uniforms and/or carrying their arms openly , then we need to do what the Geneva Conventions allows for such situations; execute them as unlawful combatants. I'd rather not, for humanitarian and intelligence reasons. But when these same individuals could be released into the U.S. by a district judge who disagrees with their detention, then we cannot risk allowing those illegal combatants off of the battlefield.

Personally, I would like the administration to tell the judge that the Uighurs will be released to his court's officers when he sends them to Guantanamo with the proper paperwork to take them into the court's custody. Of course, if there were any paperwork SNAFUs, then those court officers could be guests at Gitmo for a while. To paraphrase Andrew Jackson's statement towards a court ruling that he disagreed with, "Judge Urbina has made his decision, now let's see him enforce it."


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