Guantanamo Voices

Detainee Debacle Makes Top Headlines
January 8, 2009, 1:10 pm
Filed under: legal loopholes, media | Tags: , ,

I’m sitting on the floor of JFK airport in New York City, spreading peanut butter (from my 6 oz security-approved safe liquids container) onto a granola bar, waiting for my flight to London where I’ll meet up with Arendt, Begg and Al Haj for the first time. Check out what’s front page news at Delta’s international terminal:

UK's Guantanamo "Exiles" - Jan. 1 issue of the Times

UK's Guantanamo "Exiles" - Jan. 1 issue of the Times

The article revolves around the issue of what to do with Guantanamo detainees when Obama’s team follows through on its promise to close the prison camp. According to the article, the Obama administration plans to place 30-80 of the “most dangerous” suspects on trial in the U.S.  But it’s unknown what will happen to the rest of the 248 detainees still in Guantanamo. While Obama has made no formal request to other countries asking for help dealing with the detainees, apparently his staff “cabled 100 countries for help in closing Guantanamo.” Countries like Britain that have spoken out against the prison have some strong incentives to help the new president.

A couple reporters published articles last spring about how the US is “Stuck with Guantanamo” (that headline ran on three different pieces in the Economist, the BBC and CNN). Shuffling the detainees off to other countries is by no means a fix to the legal problems of the prison, but it might at least get some due process rolling and put the detainees in more humane conditions. If detainees are moved to the UK, they would likely be treated as asylum seekers. That’s important because it means they would receive health care benefits and 42 pounds a day — amenities that are causing some controversy about whether the UK should be putting up money to help out the quagmire.

What also caught my eye on the Times article was the headline for the jump: the front page piece ends with the direction to continue reading on page six, at “torture hellhole.”