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The Problem of Political Prisoners, Games of State, Terrorism and Gitmo

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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April 30, 2007

For some silly reason, I can’t find a good link to a story yesterday from the Chicago Tribune by foreign correspondent Kim Barker about hundreds of the politically disappeared in Pakistan. She has a telling paragraph suggesting that some of the folks have been traced to Guantanamo Bay.I just had one thought on all this. I mean, I have no doubt as to the necessity, nor do I have an objection to the cooperation of allied countries in the fight to root out al-Qaeda and interdict further attacks. (Who does?)But, as during the Cold War, we have to parlay with governments who may not share, shall we say, our enlightened views on things like differentiating between millenarian, nihilistic, cynical, blood-hungry terrorists and legitimate political dissidents.Yet, here’s my problem. If you have countries shipping off said dissidents, who probably already subscribe to some relatively conservative flavor of Islam, to a place where they are forced to commingle with said dangerous terrorists, don’t you up the chances that the contagion you wish to contain will, in point of fact, spread? Moreover, can’t one make the argument that better procedures (due process, baby) will better keep the two populations from starting to share one mind?Food for thought.

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