Sunday, February 27, 2005

Guantanamo - emergency anti-terror laws

Many around the world criticize the US for Guantanamo but these same people struggle with what to do with terrorist suspects at home.

The Telegraph reports on the different approaches taken by France and Britain.

The jubilation of supporters of the four, however, was short-lived. Officials from the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire, France's counter-terrorist service, collected Mourad Benchellali, Imad Kanouni, Nizar Sassi and Brahim Yadel from the tarmac and led them on to a bus, which was driven to an unknown high-security prison. Four days later, they appeared before two investigating magistrates and were ordered to be jailed on suspicion of having "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise". There they have remained without charge or public protest – and may stay so for up to four years – in a legal limbo not much different from that which they experienced in Camp Delta. Mr Chirac, it turns out, just preferred them to be in French rather than American custody. [As Michael Caine would say, "And not alot of people know that"]

By contrast, the Britons released from Guantanamo have been allowed to return to their communities. Moazzam Begg, of Pakistani origin, has been banned from travelling abroad, but has otherwise been feted as the victim of a miscarriage of justice on a par with the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six. Last week, he was interviewed extensively on television for an undisclosed payment. A book is understood to be in the offing.

The Telegraph points to some basic differences in approaches.

Britain had a "completely different system and a different concept of the law", he said, arguing that a reactive "policing approach" was applied instead of a preventive strategy – a naive approach based on Britain's good fortune thus far not to have been attacked by Islamic terrorists. "We in France have," he said, in a reference to attacks by Algerian groups.

How does the rest of Europe feel about this?

Denis MacShane, the Minister for Europe, told The Telegraph yesterday: "On the eve of the first anniversary of the Madrid bombings, the rest of Europe will be surprised by Conservative and Liberal Democrat resistance to measures to tackle terrorism that are accepted by most other European and Commonwealth countries."

Yet they still condemn Guantanamo.

What happens when these poster children for the anti-war movement, er terror suspects, are released from Guantanamo and they are not locked up by their home countries? This.

At least 10 detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay prison after U.S. officials concluded they posed little threat have been recaptured or killed fighting U.S. or coalition forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon officials.

One of the repatriated prisoners is still at large after taking leadership of a militant faction in Pakistan and aligning himself with al Qaeda, Pakistani officials said. In telephone calls to Pakistani reporters, he has bragged that he tricked his U.S. interrogators into believing he was someone else.

All of which leads Mark Steyn to comment:

For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.

Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere.


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