Thomas Wilner. “We Don’t Need Guantanamo Bay”. Wall Street. December 22, 2008 – The second, and by far the largest, category of prisoners at Guantanamo consists of more than 200 men who are being detained for allegedly having fought in Afghanistan. A country may detain individuals who fight against it in an armed conflict, either as members of the enemy’s armed forces or as civilians who directly participated in the hostilities. These people are not criminals; they are detained to prevent them from returning to the fight.
We now know, however, that many Guantanamo detainees never fought against anyone; they were simply turned over by Northern Alliance and Pakistani warlords for bounties of up to $25,000. For almost seven years they have been held without a fair hearing or opportunity to demonstrate those facts. The Supreme Court ruled last June in Boumediene v. Bush that these men have the constitutional right to prompt hearings to determine if there is adequate reason for detaining them. Since that decision, lower courts have reviewed the cases of 23 detainees and have found no credible basis for detaining 22 of them.
Very few court hearings have taken place, however, as government lawyers sought delay after delay. That might be an appropriate legal strategy in some cases, but it is simply outrageous here, where people have been held for nearly seven years. The government should promptly present its cases.