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Sorting out Guantánamo detainees

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"The problem with this is all fear," says Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, N.J., who wrote a series of reports critical of US actions at Guantánamo. Some pundits and security experts are "playing political games about dangerousness."

The best way to close Guantánamo, he says, is to file criminal charges against detainees who can be prosecuted and release the rest. "Everyone is looking for a perfect solution to an intractable pair of choices," Mr. Denbeaux says. "There is no magic bullet."

What makes the issue so difficult is trying to maneuver around controversial past US actions at Guantánamo – harsh interrogations and alleged torture, bypassing the Geneva Conventions, use of coerced statements to justify further detention, military commissions with stripped-down due process protections. "Everybody is ... trying to make policy and determine issues out of a half dozen absolutely disgusting aberrations," Denbeaux says. "Somehow we want to both convict these people and separate ourselves from the evil we did to them."

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