30 Gitmo Detainees Ordered Released, Bush & Cheney Proven Wrong
In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney told the American people that all the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay were "bad people." Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld told the American people in 2002 that Gitmo would hold "the worst of the worst." And President Bush spent millions in taxpayer money to stop the detainees from getting their day in federal courts. However, the ACLU and other lawyers fought for the detainees to get their day in court. That day has come, and many innocent detainees are being released.
In courtrooms barred to the public, dozens of terror suspects are pleading for their freedom from the Guantanamo Bay prison, sometimes even testifying on their own behalf by video from the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Complying with a Supreme Court ruling last year, 15 federal judges in the U.S. courthouse here are giving detainees their day in court after years behind bars half a world away from their homelands.
The judges have found the government's evidence against 30 detainees wanting and ordered their release. That number could rise significantly because the judges are on track to hear challenges from dozens more prisoners.
Scooped up along with hard-core terrorist suspects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, these 30 detainees stand in stark contrast to the 10 prisoners whom the Obama administration targeted for prosecution Friday for plotting the Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of 9/11, and four of his alleged henchmen are headed for a federal civilian trial in New York; five others, including a top suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, will be tried by a military commission.
More detainees are expected to soon be added to the prosecution list. But there will still be plenty of cases left among the 215 detainees now at Guantanamo to keep the judges here busy as they work to clear a legal morass the Bush administration created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Bush administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once promised Guantanamo held "the worst of the worst." The judges here have rejected pleas for release from eight detainees, but they have concluded the government doesn't even have enough evidence to keep 30 other detainees behind bars.
"There is absolutely no reason for this court to presume that the facts contained in the government's exhibits are accurate," District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote in ordering the release of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed. He was repatriated to Yemen after a seven-year stay at Guantanamo, where he was brought as a teenager.
"Much of the factual material contained in those exhibits is hotly contested for a host of different reasons ranging from the fact that it contains second- and third-hand hearsay to allegations that it was obtained by torture to the fact that no statement purports to be a verbatim account of what was said," Kessler said. She ruled the government failed to prove the detainee was part of or substantially supported Taliban or al-Qaida forces.
The evidentiary record "is surprisingly bare," U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in ordering the release of Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah, a 50-year-old father of four from Kuwait who had been an aviation engineer for Kuwaiti Airways for 20 years. He has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.