Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CLOSING GITMO IS FINE, BUT WHAT IS OBAMA GOING TO DO ABOUT HIS OTHER 27,000 ILLEGAL PRISONERS?

Clive Stafford Smith, Guardian UK The justifiable joy at Obama's ascendancy must be tempered with the knowledge that Guantanamo always has been a diversionary tactic in the "war on terror". The 250 men there represent fewer than 1% of the 27,000 prisoners being held by the US beyond the rule of law. There is a reason why most people have never heard of the plight of these unfortunates - they are ghost prisoners in secret prisons.

Obama has yet to speak of the missing 99.1%. It is not clear how much he even knows about them. With America at war in two countries, new captives are being taken every day. They aren't coming to Cuba, so where are they being held?

Many are in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a smattering end up in US detention in Bosnia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kosovo and in 21st-century "prison hulks" off Diego Garcia and Somalia. The most miserable are held in proxy prisons in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

There is plenty of commitment to continue this project. Obama will keep Bush's secretary of defense and perhaps even his CIA director in place. And modern renditions are not a solely Republican phenomenon, as they began with Ronald Reagan, but continued with Bill Clinton.

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