I'd just like to point something out to the many rightwingers who are frothing at the mouth today over the NYT's story that a former Gitmo detainee
January 23, 2009


I'd just like to point something out to the many rightwingers who are frothing at the mouth today over the NYT's story that a former Gitmo detainee has become the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch.

The Bush administration released this man in 2007, without trial -a decision made by political appointees, not judicial review - and handed him over to the Saudis who let him walk.

So who is at fault here?

Rather than blaming Obama for wanting to actually put bad guys on trial - proper trial - shouldn't these rightwing pundits be asking why the Bush administration made a political decision to let this guy go? Was there insufficient evidence? Was the evidence tainted by torture? Was he simply an innocent swept up by "arrest for bounty" tactics who became radicalized by his experience? What's the actual evidence for "suspecting" he has "returned" to terror?

Andrew Sullivan was kind enough to link to one of my old posts on this subject the other day in which I wrote:

Some very bad people are likely to walk free along with the innocent because the Bush administration tried to walk around domestic and international principles of law, creating an entirely spurious new designation of “unlawful combatant” so that they could either hide detainees from due process indefinitely or, failing that, conduct kangaroo courts.

If they’d just stuck with the existing definitions, all the Gitmo detainees against whom they could build a real case under the actual rules of law, without torture and without rigging the courts, would have been tried...already. If found guilty, the death penalty would have been warranted in some cases. I would personally have had no problem with that.

That's just the inevitable fallout from Bush's foolhardy actions. There's no real argument about it. But this instance is potentially even worse. If the Bush administration really thought this guy was dangerous and had real evidence to that effect, why did they make the political decision to turn him over to Bush's pals the Saudis instead of putting him on trial?

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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