Friday, March 20, 2009

Gitmo Prisoners Were Innocent

Every time I think we've reached rock bottom on revelations about misconduct during the Bush years, I discovery that there's at least another sub-basement to go.

This week it was revealed by Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, that Guantanamo is loaded with innocent people swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish terrorists from bystanders. Some of these men have been sitting there for six or seven years.

To make matters worse Wilkerson, who is also a retired Army Colonel, revealed:

"U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released."

So for years my government knew it was sweeping up innocent people, imprisoning them, and refusing to let them go. Moreover, according to Wilkerson, Rumsfeld and Cheney knew about the problem and refused to address it because it would be seen as a black spot on their leadership. Well thank goodness we kept Don's and Dick's names squeaky clean! After all, their leadership is universally regarded as a shining light of hope across the globe. If we marred their reputations they never would have been able to pull off all the good work they did while in office.

My country held - and probably tortured - innocent people. We are just suppose to be better than that. We may have internal disagreements about how to best protect ourselves from those who want to hurt us, but can't we all agree that imprisoning innocent people is not what America is about?

But, also, what about our own soldiers? One country's grunt is another country's "enemy combatant." Didn't the Bushies think about how this would impact treatment of captured Americans? We at least owe it to them to be an example of mercy and justice. They are the ones likely to bear the brunt if we aren't.

Here's Wilkerson on Maddow talking about the issue:

President Obama, how about getting the shutdown at Gitmo done and turning some attention to the prosecution of people who imprisoned innocent men?

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