Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hot coals

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are subject to Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) to determine whether they are enemy combatants i.e. non PoWs who have engaged in hostile action against the United States on "the battlefield", where the battlefield is defined as anywhere in the world. Having thus been determined to be terrorists, they are later put on trial for specific terrorism offences. For example, Australian David Hicks is already in general terms "a terrorist", since a CSRT said so, but he remains to be convicted of specific terrorist offences in his forthcoming executive branch "trial".

In this context, the Pentagon today announced that it will have CSRTs for the 14 high value detainees, the 14 moved from other overseas locations in a pre-election stunt by George W. Bush (which, despite its billing, did not close the overseas detention program). Consider the logic for not allowing media coverage of the CSRTs and editing the transcripts that will be made available --

"The goal of the department and the United States government here is to be as transparent as possible,” Whitman [Pentagon spokesman] said, addressing the same issue. “But I think everybody recognizes that these individuals are unique for the role that they have played in terrorist operations and in combat operations against U.S. forces. So obviously, we’re going to have to look at information that’s presented by them in their combatant status review tribunals to ensure that we’re protecting information that’s important to national security.”

i.e. we can't release information about the tribunals to determine whether the 14 are terrorists because they are terrorists.

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