Should Guantanamo Bay be America's problem to solve?



Die Zeit, Germany

Germany Must Refuse U.S. on Guantanamo Prisoners


"It isn’t clear why others should face the music for what the Americans have brought upon themselves. … Grateful memories of the Marshall Plan, care packages and candy bombers during the Berlin blockade should not seduce us into a suspension of reason."


By Theo Summer



Translated By Jonathan Lobsien


May 21, 2009


Germany - Die Zeit - Original Article (German)

Detainees await processing at Guantanamo: Closing the facility is turning out to be a lot harder than opening it, with allies hesitant to accept those who will be released, and U.S. states unwilling to accept them, either - even if deemed 'not dangerous.'


BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.S. Congress blocks funding for closure of Guantanamo Bay, May 21, 00:01:32RealVideo

The names of nine Uyghurs are on the list that Barack Obama’s special envoy, Daniel Fried, recently handed over to the German government. They currently sit along with some 250 other detainees in the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Germany, according to the request of the Obama government, may take in the Uyghurs in order to make the closure of the camp easier. According to a U.S. court, the nine pose no danger, but in their homeland of China, they would be threatened again with imprisonment and torture. Should Germany grant the men asylum? A fierce debate has erupted within the grand [ruling] coalition in Berlin concerning this matter. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party) is for hosting them, while Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union), as well as a few SDP insiders, object.


America's request that the Federal Republic should accept nine Uyghurs who for years have been rotting away in Guantanamo, is - to put it mildly - an unreasonable demand. As much as one might wish that they finally receive justice - along with about a dozen other of their fellow countrymen who were tortured and confined to cages at the U.S. camp after September 11th - and then kept outside of all law under George W. Bush - we should not accede to this unjust demand. There are three reasons to argue against it.


First: It isn’t clear why others should face the music for what the Americans have brought upon themselves. Why should people in Bavaria or Lower Saxony take in those who Texas and Illinois refuse to accept? Barack Obama wants to redress the injustice inflicted on the Guantanamo detainees under his predecessor, which is honorable. But it's the duty of the perpetrator nation to remedy the situation. The restitution cannot, by blithely referring to the solidarity of the Alliance, be pushed onto other nations - and certainly not those countries who have always regarded Guantanamo as the downfall of American democracy. And in any case: if the Uyghurs are dangerous, it is impertinent to unload them on us. If they pose no threat, however, it's difficult to see why America itself doesn't offer them asylum. Could it be, perhaps, that they weren't offered asylum because they would then demand compensation for wrongful imprisonment or even pursue criminal proceedings against the willing executors of Bush's and Cheney's torture fantasies?  



Second: The mercy of human rights advocates is honored, but we cannot ignore the issue of security. We simply don’t know who will be coming to us. Innocent people who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time who for a bounty were handed over to the Americans? Offenders or potential offenders who feigned innocence in order to be set free? Let us recall: a freed Guantanamo detainee from Saudi Arabia today is now one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen; meanwhile, another freed detainee just blew himself up in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.


Der Spiegel quoted in its latest edition facts from German government files, which must have been quite thought-provoking for those who advocate receiving the detainees. It seems that several of the Uyghurs offered to us by Washington may have attended terrorist training camps that belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and advocates for the independence of China's Xinjiang Province (which they call East Turkestan). Who knows whether at the time of their arrest it was pure coincidence that they were staying in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan? And what extremist thoughts that might adhere to in the future? Either way, they will need to be intensively monitored at all times. If they should actually come to Munich merely because 500 Uyghurs live there - would that not represent a radicalization of the World Uyghur Congress, which is headquartered there, and perhaps a new Hamburg, this time anti-Chinese? [Editor's Note: This is a reference to the Hamburg cell of al-Qaeda, where some of the 9/11 hijackers prepared for the terrorist attacks of September 11.]



Die Zeit, Germany: Germany Must Accept U.S. Request on Guantanamo Prisoners

Liberation, France: How Brave Americans Were Turned Into Torturers

NRC Handlesblad, The Netherlands: Torture Has No Place in 'Shining City on a Hill'

Le Temps, Switzerland: Doing Evil in the Name of the Good

Izvestia, Russia: U.S. and Torture: For Mr. Obama, It's 'Hard to Be Gorby'

Publico, Spain: Torture Charges Filed Against Bush Legal Team; Judge Garzon Handles Case

Hurriyet, Turkey: Dick Cheney's Torture Logic is 'Deeply Offensive'

Die Tageszeitung, Germany: America and Torture: 'Just Following Orders'

Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Obama: Inviting the Next Torture Scandal

Jornal de Noticias, Portugal: Poverty and Torture: Bush Has Company in Europe

Le Monde, France: 'Fussy' Rights Groups 'Wrong' to Be Impatient with Obama

Le Figaro, France: Obama's Moral Crusade: A Few Words of Caution

The Independent, U.K.: America Doesn't Need a Witch-Hunt

BBC News, U.K.: U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Calls CIA Exemption 'Illegal'

Ottawa Citizen, Canada: Torture the 'Chicago Way'

Toronto Star, Canada: Winking at CIA Abuse


Third: In terms of China, the political aspect of the matter cannot be simply ignored. The Obama Administration doesn't want to spoil its relations with Beijing, which is why Hillary Clinton, during her first visit to China as secretary of state, pointedly put the human rights issue on the back burner. But why should we alone risk a further deterioration of our relations with the Middle Kingdom, while America craftily stands aside and without absorbing a single Uyghur? Nothing good can come of this. If the full weight of Beijing’s wrath isn't to descend on Berlin, there will likely be a need for several other European states to take in Guantanamo inmates of the rebellious Turkic people who defy Chinese sovereignty, (like in the case of the Schengen Agreement that guarantees [Europeans] freedom to travel, in this way at least we could have a jointly-approved European solution to this question).



The upsurge in emotion that the Uyghur issue has triggered is understandable. But pangs of remorse over the handling of Murat Kurnaz's case or grateful memories of the Marshall Plan, care packages and candy bombers during the Berlin blockade should not seduce us into a suspension of reason. That reason, rather, should tell us that in the case of the Uyghurs, security concerns and the prevention of negative foreign policy consequences must take priority over well-meaning but incorrectly-addressed human rights considerations. 









































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 20, 10:59pm]