The NY Times:
The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
Every time I see these stories, it makes my blood boil. This nonsense started last week with the Pentagon’s “timely” release of a report about 61 detainees, and continues on today on all your favorite fringe right blogs. The borg knows how to move in unison.
Here is what I don’t understand. Why is this repeatedly framed as a problem for Obama, when what this really is is evidence that the Bush administration accomplished NOTHING with Guantanamo. This is not a problem for Obama. This is proof that the last administration was a group of incompetent hacks. Bush decided that he had the right to detain people forever, do whatever he wanted to them, and they had no rights whatsoever, he ruined our international reputation and most likely violated dozens of laws, yet he let these allegedly dangerous people go. Why? What was the purpose of Gitmo, anyway? Why do all this stuff and STILL let the dangerous guys go free?
Because they had no idea what they were doing. They were so intent on DWTFTW, to hell with domestic and international law, that they paid no attention to the fact that torture and abuse doesn’t lead to good evidence and means that you can not prosecute. They made such a hash of the evidence that even today they can not prosecute half these guys because the evidence is in such disarray:
Vandeveld was assigned to the military prosecutor’s office at Guantanamo Bay in May 2007, shortly before Jawad was charged. Vandeveld, who as a civilian serves as a senior deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania, said he was shocked by the “state of disarray” as he began to gather material for Jawad’s case file.
He said the evidence was scattered throughout databases, in desk drawers, in vaguely labeled containers or “simply piled on the tops of desks” of departed prosecutors.
“I further discovered that most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared” or had been stored in unknown locations, he said.
The moral of this story is not the danger for Obama going forward with his Gitmo decommissioning, the moral is that when venal, shallow, small men are given unfettered power and authority, they do incompetent, stupid, and evil things.
And only in America would they never have to pay a price for that.
More here from Spencer Ackerman.