Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Guantanamo Prisoners

Andrew Sullivan points out an incredible resource: a full list of all 779 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. For those of you not interested in purchasing a book on this, a great deal of information is available here, here, here, and here. All prisoners are listed on these links with their country of origin and release date (for those that have been released). Most prisoners also have links associated with them to earlier posts on the author's blog, or relevant news items. This obviously isn't comparable to the Gulags or anything like that. We can't forget that these prisoners were captured precisely because there was reason to believe they were committing heinous crimes against the U.S. and against humanity. They needed to be imprisoned and interrogated. At the same time, a lot of what happened at Guantanamo does soil the reputation of the U.S., and went beyond what was needed to effectively prosecute the War on Terror. Indeed, some of the harsher methods used at Guantanamo made the fight against terrorism less effective; this was the very basis for most of the opposition.

The prison's operation was also of dubious constitutionality and legality. What is the purpose of fighting an enemy that is trying to destory our institutions if we abandon those institutions ourselves? Guantanamo's legacy is complex. I have a lot of reservations about what went on (and is going on) there, although I don't have a problem with it's mere existence. This complexity requires sober deliberation, and sober deliberation requires access to information. This compilation of information on the detainees is ample fodder for the sort of deliberation we need. Let's learn who these men were.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to the list; I hadn't seen that earlier (hard to keep up with Sullivan's constantly updated site, haha). You're right that initially there was reason to believe that the detainees might have picked up arms against the U.S. It's just a shame that there was so much hassle (legally, intelligence-wise, politically) for people that were just turned in by rival warlords or for bounties who posed no actual threat. I guess in the heat of battle there wasn't a good way to verify the information that led to their detention -- but more than a year or two to release these people is deeply regrettable.


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