In a case of interesting timing, today’s New York Times reports in “Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief” that a former Guantanamo detainee is now a deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen and opines that this 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.” A related Times online forum debates “The Risks of Releasing Detainees.”
To me, however, this case–and the Pentagon’s reports of recidivism–underscores the failure of the Bush administration’s attempt to identify and prosecute those responsible for 9/11.
By resorting to illegal and untested practices and policies, the Bush administration turned its back on the best tools we have for identifying and prosecuting people responsible for grave acts of violence against civilians–including standard law-enforcement practices and a tried and true federal court system.
As a result, some of the wrong people may have been released and some of the wrong people have been (and continue to be) detained–while those ultimately responsible for 9/11 remain either at large or unprosecuted.
This is criminal. In addition to accountability for torture and other abuses against detainees, there should be accountability for the failure to identify, apprehend and prosecute those who have attacked the United States, whether under G.W. Bush’s administration–or Clinton’s.
If anything, accounts of the radicalization of former detainees underscore the need for a full, independent, investigation into the U.S. government’s detention and interrogation program to find out where things went wrong, make sure the same mistakes aren’t repeated and hold those responsible accountable.
President Obama has the power to make it all happen. Let him know you want him to.