Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Won't Bush Release the Uighur Prisoners at Gitmo?

By Daphne Eviatar, Washington Independent

As the Bush term ends, his administration is using every possible excuse to keep its captives from the "war on terror" imprisoned.

Pity the Uighurs. Originally known best in this country for their unusual name (pronounced WEE'-gurz), the group of 17 Chinese Muslims has been locked up at Guantanamo Bay for the past seven years. That has contributed to the Uighurs new-found notoriety as hapless victims of a U.S. detention policy that can't send them home, yet can't send them anywhere else.
The Bush administration has acknowledged that it no longer considers the Uighurs "enemy combatants" subject to detention. Yet on Nov. 24, it vigorously fought a court's order to release them in the United States -- insisting that only the president and his Homeland Security Dept. have the authority to make that call. (Because the 17 Chinese Muslims received weapons training in Afghanistan, the administration claimed they posed a threat and cannot be allowed to live here. Yet the government has never presented any evidence that the men intended to use their training to stage attacks in the United States.)
The case has become such a global embarrassment for the U.S. that a group of 10 distinguished conservatives recently wrote to the administration appealing for the Uighurs' release, saying their continued detention without cause "undermines our standing in the world."

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