Looking For A Country In Which To Store A Guantanamo Prisoner

by Martin Peretz | July 26, 2010

During his campaign and at the beginning of his presidency Barack Obama promised to shut Guantanamo and give (most of) its prisoners their freedom. Freedom is a difficult state to bestow on people, especially those who have lived in the circle or shadow of terror or terrorism.

In any case, the Congress won't allow the president to close the penitentiary at the southern tip of Cuba. And it certainly won't permit him to sprinkle the remaining inmates around America. This is another instance of Obama choking on his own words.

Right now, Washington is trying to place Algerian-born Abdul Aziz Naji in Algeria. Naji himself fought the attempt up to the U.S. Supreme Court; he lost.

But the International Herald Tribune is absolutely correct in arguing that Algeria may very well not be safe for Naji or for other Guantanamo inmates whom Washington wants to dispose of on the streets of Algiers. Look: the fact is that many Arabs in trouble do not want to go home.

The Herald Tribune finds their objections perfectly reasonable. and so do I.

The problem is that these individuals have, let us say, questionable pasts. But only questionable. They should not be obliged to spend the rest of their lives in gaol.

But the government rightly refuses to dispatch inmates to Libya, Syria and other torture centers. The IHT says these countries "have a record or torture and lawlessness...and (are) known for abuse."

Let's face the facts. There is no country in the Arab world and only a very few in the Muslim orbit that can really be vouched for on this count. Sorry. But this is the truth. We are stuck with the guys we detained.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-spine/76552/looking-country-in-which-store-guantanamo-prisoner