By Ruth Conniff
If you haven’t noticed, Obama is still holding prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay, even though he promised to have the place shut down by six months ago.
And leaving aside his upcoming shell game, whereby he’s going to shuffle prisoners over to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, consider for the moment the case of one individual still held at Guantanamo.
His name is Mohammed Hassan Odaini. He’s been at Guantanamo for eight years now. He was just 18 when he was taken there, having been plucked by Pakistani police while he was at university and when he had spent one night at a guest house.
Odaini always asserted that he had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and actually his interrogators agreed shortly after he arrived. In 2004, a Pentagon official cleared him for release, but for six extra years now, he’s languished down there.
This is an outrage, as U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy ruled on Thursday.
In a 36-page decision that included seven full pages that were blotted out and many additional paragraphs that were redacted, Judge Kennedy wrote that “the evidence before the court overwhelmingly supports Odaini’s contention that he is unlawfully detained.”
Judge Kennedy said that the government lawyers engaged in a “misrepresentation of the evidence” and that they failed to summon “anything close” to the evidence necessary to hold Odaini.
In conclusion, Judge Kennedy wrote: “The evidence before the court shows that holding Odaini in custody at such great cost to him has done nothing to make the United States more secure. There is no evidence that Odaini has any connection to Al Qaeda. Consequently, his detention is not authorized by the AUMF [Authorization of Use of Military Force, passed by Congress after 9/11]. The court therefore emphatically concludes that Odaini’s motion must be granted.” Note the word “emphatically.”
It’s cases like Odaini’s that raised the ire of the world about what’s been going on down at Guantanamo, and that got Obama to agree to shut place down.
But Obama still drags his feet. And these grotesque injustices continue.
By the way, on Monday, June 14, 27 activists from the group Witness Against Torture face trial for their nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol on January 21.
“The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is unacceptable,” Matthew W. Daloisio of Witness Against Torture. “If Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is eighteen months later.”
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.