Yesterday’s big news in the War on Terror (or, more likely, small news, if, like us, you’re still focusing the lion’s share of your attention on Martha’s impending lockdown) was the return of five British prisoners to the U.K. on Tuesday, after their having spent the past two years in American custody in Guantanamo Bay. Two years of imprisonment, mind you, without having been charged with a crime, save for some vague language about “enemy” this, “combatant” that.
Here’s the stunning aspect of this case, however: while four of the men are still being questioned about their activities in Afghanistan, one of the prisoners in question, a mere few hours after landing on his home soil, was released from custody yesterday. This from the Guardian:
A fifth man, Jamal Udeen, also known as Jamal al Harith, from Manchester, was released without charge last night. His solicitor Robert Lizar said his client wanted the US authorities to “answer for the injustice which he has suffered”.
Just who is this vile terrorist/enemy combatant that was in some way indirectly responsible for the events of September 11th, 2001? The Guardian continues:
The 36-year-old convert, who was born Ronald Fiddler, left Manchester to go backpacking in Pakistan in September 2001. Within three weeks, coalition forces had found him in jail in Kandahar, Afghanistan; he said the Taliban had jailed him, believing he was a spy.
Injustice, indeed. This huge credibility gap in the U.S. government’s assertions on progress made in the War on Terror™ apparently doesn’t warrant coverage in the Times, the Post, or any other American media outlet. Oh, wait, my bad: there’s this Reuters story linked from the Times’ website.
What does the Reuters piece assert?
If all five are freed without charge, as some lawyers are predicting, the government may face questions on why it had taken more than two years to get them out. With tabloid newspapers eagerly competing for rights to their stories, the “Guantanamo Five” have a ready-made platform to vent anger.
Five down, and 600 to go.