(fifth in a series arguing against the Graham Amendment/for the Bingaman Amendment. When you call your senators, tell them that you're asking to vote for the Bingaman Amendment, S. AMDT 2517to bill # S. 1042.)
“not as criminal defendants but as enemy combatants, people detained on the battlefield”
“Guantanamo Bay is a place we have designated to take people off the battlefield and hold them”
“an enemy combatant--someone caught on the battlefield, engaged in hostilities against this country”
“These are people caught on the battlefield as the Nazis were caught on the battlefield.”
--Senator Lindsey Graham.
Were they all really caught on the battlefield? That depends on what the definition of “battlefield” is.
According to the Bush administration, and apparently to Graham, the battlefield includes prisons in Bosnia, where Hadj Boudella and five other men were taken from shortly after the Bosnian Supreme Court held that there was no evidence to justify their detention. As Jane Mayer has reported:
At the request of the U.S., the Bosnian government held all six men for three months, but was unable to substantiate any criminal charges against them. On January 17, 2002, the Bosnian Supreme Court ruled that they should be released. Instead, as the men left prison, they were handcuffed, forced to put on surgical masks with nose clips, covered in hoods, and herded into waiting unmarked cars by masked figures, some of whom appeared to be members of the Bosnian special forces. Boudella’s wife had come to the prison to meet her husband, and she recalled that she recognized him, despite the hood, because he was wearing a new suit that she had brought him the day before. “I will never forget that night,” she said. “It was snowing. I was screaming for someone to help.” A crowd gathered, and tried to block the convoy, but it sped off. The suspects were taken to a military airbase and kept in a freezing hangar for hours; one member of the group later claimed that he saw one of the abductors remove his Bosnian uniform, revealing that he was in fact American. The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied its role in the operation.
Six days after the abduction, Boudella’s wife received word that her husband and the other men had been sent to Guantánamo.
The battlefield extends to the outskirts of Kitwe, Zambia, where Martin Mubanga was arrested in March 2002. It extends to Banjul Airport in the Gambia, where Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil al-Banna were seized in November 2002.
It is no exaggeration to say that according to the Bush administration, the battlefield is the whole world:
Could a "little old lady in Switzerland" who sent a check to an orphanage in Afghanistan be taken into custody if unbeknownst to her some of her donation was passed to al-Qaida terrorists? asked U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green.
"She could," replied Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle. "Someone's intention is clearly not a factor that would disable detention." It would be up to a newly established military review panel to decide whether to believe her and release her....
"It is not limited to individuals who carried a weapon and shot at American troops," Boyle replied. They don't have to be on the front lines; they can be strategic advisers, intelligence informants, or supply workers including cooks, he said.
Green asked if a hypothetical resident of England who teaches English to the son of an al-Qaida leader could be detained. Boyle said he could because "Al-Qaida could be trying to learn English to stage attacks there," and he compared that aid to "those shipping bullets to the front."
The majority of detainees at Guantanamo were arrested in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But even they were not necessarily taken in a battle. Mamdouh Habib was riding a bus and was picked up by Pakistani police. Moazzam Begg has stated that he was taken from his house in Pakistan & put into “the boot of car.” Badr Zaman Badr and Abdulrahim Dost say Pakistan’s ISI raided their house. Other detainees have made similar accusations about Pakistan security forces to the Combatant Status Review Tribunals:
One detainee who said he was an Afghan refugee in Pakistan accused the country's intelligence service of trumping up evidence against him to get bounty money from the U.S.
"When I was in jail, they said I needed to pay them money and if I didn't pay them, they'd make up wrong accusations about me and sell me to the Americans and I'd definitely go to Cuba," he told the tribunal. "After that I was held for two months and 20 days in their detention, so they could make wrong accusations about me and my (censored), so they could sell us to you.….
A detainee who said he was a Saudi businessman claimed, "The Pakistani police sold me for money to the Americans." "This was part of a roundup of all foreigners and Arabs in that area," of Pakistan near the Afghan border, he said.
There are also credible allegations of the U.S. offering financial rewards in Afghanistan itself. From the same article:
In March 2002, the AP reported that Afghan intelligence offered rewards for the capture of al-Qaeda fighters — the day after a five-hour meeting with U.S. Special Forces. Intelligence officers refused to say if the two events were linked and if the United States was paying the offered reward of 150 million Afghanis, then equivalent to $4,000 a head.
That day, leaflets and loudspeaker announcements promised "the big prize" to those who turned in al-Qaeda fighters.
Said one leaflet: "You can receive millions of dollars. ... This is enough to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life — pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people."
Helicopters broadcast similar announcements over the Afghan mountains, enticing people to "Hand over the Arabs and feed your families for a lifetime," said Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former Qatar justice minister and leader of a group of Arab lawyers representing nearly 100 detainees.
Bear all this in mind, when you hear Senator Graham argue that “[t]hese are people caught on the battlefield as the Nazis were caught on the battlefield.”