The allegations that innocent men are locked up in the US terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay are getting worse.
Though largely ignored by the mainstream press, the US government has admitted for quite some time now that there are men locked up at Gitmo who, in fact, did nothing wrong – the story of the 17 Uighur Muslims from China - a group the government says are not ‘enemy combatants’ nor were they training to become terrorists when caught – is one we’ve covered here for several months. But, according to Lawrence B. Wilkerson, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Wilkerson said that of the 240 men still locked up at Gitmo, only 24 are actually terrorists – in other words 90% of the people we have detained for the better part of a decade, and decry as being the ‘worst of the worst’ are, apparently, innocent.
So who is Lawrence Wilkerson and why should we listen to him about Guantanamo Bay? Because he was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell when the detention camp at Gitmo was set up in the first place. How we got into this mess, according to Wilkerson, is basically due to a perfect storm of incompetence, arrogance and stubbornness.
In the early days of the campaign in Afghanistan, the US military swept up suspected terrorists by the bushel; others were turned over to the US for the $5,000 per head reward being offered. But US forces in-country had little or no training on how to tell ‘terrorist’ from ‘local insurgent’ or ‘innocent guy being turned in by his angry brother-in-law for the reward money’, so they were all shipped off to Cuba. Wilkerson claims the Bush administration quickly realized that many of the men arriving at Gitmo had no ties to al-Qaeda and no information to offer, but that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney fought efforts to admit their error since they feared this would undermine their leadership in the War on Terror.
So in other words, hundreds of apparently innocent people were shipped off to an American ‘gulag’ and kept there for years all just to avoid embarrassing Cheney and Rumsfeld. To make matters worse, Wilkerson says the two dozen actual terrorists at Gitmo can’t be put on trial in the United States for their crimes because the Bush administration allowed them to be tortured and then didn’t even bother to keep an evidence trail of what information they gave up.
Of course this is just one man’s opinion - but it is one man with inside knowledge of the situation, who was there from the beginning and who’s accounts have been at least partially confirmed by released detainees (not to mention how it jibes with the story of the 17 Uighurs still locked up).