Who Are Those Gitmo Detainees?

Though it has been ten years since the 9/11 attacks, we are continually warned by our government that it’s only a matter of time before the terrorist strike again, and on a greater scale. The terrorists, they warn, are making their move as we speak, some flying in from Al Qaeda training camps from remote corners of the world, others crossing the Mexican border disguised as farm workers, others already here in the U.S. holding regular jobs and attending our universities. The enemy host is everywhere and growing in numbers. We cannot let our guard down and lull ourselves into false sense of security.

O,K., the warning is loud and clear, but in order for us ordinary citizens to effectively guard against the terrorists threat, our government should share more of their intelligence with us. We would need to more about the enemy, the sort of people they are, the way they think and operate, their recruitment and infiltrating methods, their mannerisms, their cultural and religious ties, in short, how to recognize them.

Which takes us to the living sample of the Gitmo detainees. As of March 2011, there were 172 terrorists still imprisoned in Guantanamo (down from 750). By bringing them to trial in the U.S. and publicly airing the proceedings on TV rather than trying them in secret military courts, as some of our government officials insist (actually, since none of the detainees could be identified as members of a national armed force, but merely “enemy combatants”, they cannot be legally tried in military courts) then we would get a good idea of what these people are like, what exactly they did to merit the brand of terrorist. Were some simply firing at the U.S. invaders, blustering about their deeds to impress their superiors and peers, butchering non-cooperating civilians, actually planning and capable of orchestrating another 9/11?. Are they mostly stupid, brilliant, ignorant, well educated, rational, mentally deranged? What? As has been noted since time immemorial, the key to victory in any manner of strife is not superior force but greater knowledge of the enemy. Granted, there is much top secret information that our government cannot divulge without giving away their strategies or endangering the lives of our agents and collaborators abroad. But keeping us citizens entirely in the dark is not a good policy either. In democracy like ours, we the people, as the Constitution makes clear, are ultimately the ones who rule, and for that we should expect from our public servants as much information as is prudently possible.

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