April 18, 2005


Military Report on Guantanamo Highlights Danger of Al Qaeda
: As Camp Delta's legality is challenged, a chilling portrait of its detainees is offered by the U.S. (Richard A. Serrano, April 18, 2005, LA Times)

Three years after it began, the prison experiment known as Camp Delta at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has reached a crossroads in its incarceration of those captured in the war brought on by Sept. 11.

Military officials have completed tribunal hearings for all 558 detainees and have compiled their most comprehensive report detailing what they have learned about potential future terrorist attacks. But the Bush administration now is battling efforts by lawyers for some of the prisoners to have the cases moved to federal courts in Washington.

Should that happen, it could end the military's long-held goal of keeping those it has identified as "enemy combatants" out of the public spotlight and ensconced in the island prison.

The new report appears to buttress the military's claim that it should be allowed to run Camp Delta without outside intervention because the camp has become "the single best repository of Al Qaeda information."

The declassified summary cites more than 4,000 interrogation reports and says that some indicated Al Qaeda operatives were pursuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The summary does not elaborate on what that information is or how close the terrorist organization might be to getting such weapons.

According to the report, captives have described how Al Qaeda trained them to spread deadly poisons, and at other times armed them with grenades stuffed inside soda cans, bombs hidden in pagers and cellphones and wristwatches that could trigger remote control explosions on a 24-hour countdown.

The report also showed that not all those being held were suspected of being front-line soldiers and that 1 in 10 of the captives were well-educated — often at U.S. colleges — in fields such as medicine and law.

More than 20 detainees have been positively identified as Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguards and one as his close "spiritual advisor," according to the report. Another is listed as the "probable 20th 9/11 hijacker" — a Saudi man named Mohamed al-Kahtani who made it to Orlando, Fla., before being deported just a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.

One detainee vowed to his captors that U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia "will have their heads cut off." Another prisoner, this one with strong ties to Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Chechen mujahedin leadership, said of Americans everywhere: "Their day is coming…. One day I will enjoy sucking their blood."

Just because we've won the war on terror so easily doesn't mean these nutbags aren't genuine threats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2005 9:06 AM

This is all well and good, but sooner or later we are going to have to deal with these people. If they are really criminals, they should be shot, or subjected to such other punishment as a military commission shall direct. I they are not individually guilty, they are going to have to be released--there is really no third alternative. Indefinite incarceration because we lack the nerve to make our minds up is not an option.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 18, 2005 3:27 PM

Why not? Prisons are full of such.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 3:30 PM