Official says Guantanamo detainees were held without cause

A high-ranking former official in the Bush Administration has admitted that many of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent.

 In a document obtained by The Times of London, Lawrence Wilkerson, army veteran and former chief of staff to Colin Powell, alleged that President George W. Bush knew that many of the detainees sent to the prison at Guantanamo Bay were innocent. Wilkerson says that the men were not even captured by US forces, but turned over to American troops by Afghans or Pakistanis who were paid up to $5,000 for the prisoners.

Wilkerson says that the detainees continued to be held, even after no evidence of guilt could be produced, because Bush and others in his administration believed the increasing number of captured “terrorists” bolstered their case for war in Iraq.

“It amounts to an indictment of George W. Bush for war criminal acts,”

said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the Answer Coalition.

“It says under oath that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld knowingly kept hundreds of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, a center the UN itself identified as a torture center.”

The fallout of the announcement may not lie so much in the consequences for Bush, who is unlikely to ever face any charges, but in continued distrust of America abroad – particularly in its efforts to fight the global war on terror.

“We cannot torture people, hold them without due process, rip them away from their families. You can’t do that to human beings and not create bitterness and anger – not just from them, but also from their families and their neighbors. When you treat them badly, you generate fierce resistance,”

Becker said.