by Atlantic Review
Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 04:47:44 PM EST
Crossposted at Atlantic Review
One of the more than 500 detainees at Guantanamo is the 23 years old Murat Kurnaz, who was born and raised in Bremen in northern Germany. He travelled to Pakistan in October 2001, was arrested shortly afterwards and detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002, because a military panel ruled that he was a member of Al Qaeda. However, according to a March 2005 article in The Washington Post:
Evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities. (...)
The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001. "CITF has no definite link/evidence of detainee having an association with Al Qaida or making any specific threat against the U.S.," one document says. "CITF is not aware of evidence that Kurnaz was or is a member of Al Quaeda."
According to a Wall Street Journal article from January 2005, Murat Kurnaz isn't an isolated case:
American commanders acknowledge that many prisoners shouldn't have been locked up here in the first place because they weren't dangerous and didn't know anything of value. "Sometimes, we just didn't get the right folks," says Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, Guantanamo's current commander."
According to the above mentioned Washington Post article, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that the tribunals are "illegal, unfairly stacked against detainees and in violation of the Constitution" and
criticized the military panel for ignoring the exculpatory information that dominates Kurnaz's file and for relying instead on a brief, unsupported memo filed shortly before Kurnaz's hearing by an unidentified government official.
The Bush administration has appealed her decision. Currently the Court of Appeals contemplates the case. The next post in the Atlantic Review deals with attempts to limit the access of Guantanamo detainees to federal courts.
Murat Kurnaz is the son of Turkish Gastarbeiters and does not have German citizenship. Therefore the German government does not make diplomatic representations on his behalf. The Turkish government originally viewed Murat Kurnaz as "German-Turkish" and has shown little interest in pressuring the US government over Murat Kurnaz' case, writes Amnesty International.
David at Dialog International argues that "Murat Kurnaz is a man without a country, so he is in need of our support." He has written to his Senator in Maine and urges you to take action as well.
The The Washington Post prints an op-ed by a lawyer representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners:
In a wiser past, we tried Nazi war criminals in the sunlight. Summing up for the prosecution at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson said that "the future will never have to ask, with misgiving: 'What could the Nazis have said in their favor?' History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. . . . The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength." The world has never doubted the judgment at Nuremberg. But no one will trust the work of these secret tribunals.