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Robert Fisk: Scandal of six held in Guantanamo even after Bush plot claim is dropped

No evidence that men living in Bosnia plotted attack on Sarajevo embassy

Friday, 31 October 2008

FBI evidence against Hadj Boudella has been withdrawn, on the ground that it was 'not reliable'

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

FBI evidence against Hadj Boudella has been withdrawn, on the ground that it was 'not reliable'

In the dying days of the Bush administration, yet another presidential claim in the "war on terror" has been proved false by the withdrawal of the main charge against six Algerians held without trial for nearly seven years at Guantanamo prison camp.

George Bush's assertion in his 2002 State of the Union address – the same speech in which he wrongly claimed that Saddam Hussein had tried to import aluminium tubes from Niger – was that "our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy [in Sarajevo]." Not only has the US government withdrawn that charge against the six Algerians, all of whom had taken citizenship or residence in Bosnia, but lawyers defending the Arabs – who had already been acquitted of such a plot in a Sarajevo court – have found that the US threatened to pull its troops out of the Nato peacekeeping force in Bosnia if the men were not handed over. According to testimony presented by the Bosnian Prime Minister, Alija Behman, the deputy US ambassador to Bosnia in 2001, Christopher Hoh, told him that if he did not hand the men to the Americans, "then let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina".

That such a threat should be made – and the international High Representative to Bosnia at the time, Wolfgang Petritsch, has also told lawyers it was – shows for the first time just how ruthless and unprincipled US foreign policy had become in Mr Bush's "war on terror". By withdrawing their military and diplomatic support for the Bosnian peace process, the Americans would have backed out of the Dayton accord which they themselves had negotiated. Then the Bosnian government would have lost its legitimacy and the country might have collapsed back into a civil war which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and involved mass rape as well as massacre. The people of Bosnia might then have endured "terror" on a scale far greater than the attacks of al-Qa'ida against the United States.

When the Bosnian court was preparing to release their six prisoners, Prime Minister Behman was informed that Mr Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney and the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had been personally briefed and the White House had decided that, if they were freed, US troops in the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia would seize them, using "whatever force is necessary". So, despite a three-month investigation by the Bosnian police, their clearance and a specific demand by the Dayton-established Bosnian Human Rights Chamber that they should not be forced to leave Bosnia, US forces seized all six, shackled and blindfolded them and put them on a plane to Guantanamo.

Mustafa Idir, Mohamed Nechla, Hadj Boudella, Lakhdar Boumedienne, Belkacem Bensayah and Saber Lahmar have remained there since, the only European citizens still in Guanatanamo. Five of their wives are still waiting for them in Bosnia along with 20 of their children, two of whom their fathers have never seen. Their case will be put to a habeas corpus district court hearing in Washington next week – the six will appear in a live transmission from Guantanamo – where their lawyers will point out that another critical charge has also been withdrawn by the US government.

The administration has withdrawn evidence given by a federal prisoner, Enaam Arnaout, against Boudella – that he trained at an al-Qa'ida camp in Afghanistan – when lawyers were about to discover that the US Justice Department had said five years earlier that an FBI interview with the man was "not reliable".

Even stranger is that the six prisoners are claimed by the US to be "enemy combatants" when – with the dropping of the embassy bomb-plot charge – there is no evidence they have ever fought US troops or planned to attack US interests anywhere in the world. Part of the case against Bensayah involved the alleged discovery of a piece of paper at his home, bearing a telephone number for an al-Qa'ida operative, Abu Zubayder. "The Bosnian police couldn't get this number to work in Afghanistan or Pakistan," one of the prisoners' lawyers, Stephen Oleskey, says. "Now we believe an announcement that the paper had been discovered was made before it was 'found'."

Mr Oleskey says Clint Williamson, the US war crimes ambassador, met Bosnia's Prime Minister, Nicola Spiric, this week. "There's only one reason he makes these visits," he said. "To negotiate the return of people in Guantanamo." The White House may intend to save itself further embarrassment by ending the torment of six more apparently innocent young men.

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51 Comments

To DGS nice comment. May I add a classic saying - which some (Too many I believe) people still do not understand?

Saying "You can fool some of the people for
some of the time, but you can't
fool all of the people for all of
the time."

Ergo - Many of the masses - were fooled from the outset of 9/11 - but many unpalatable truths are coming out.

Posted by Steve | 06.11.08, 21:55 GMT

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I usually do not comment on posts, but this time I could not resist. Victor has a problem with Mr. Westerman, why the insult? NO offer of countering the post, no, just more braindead insults.
Everything, yes EVERYTHING, he stated has been PROVEN.
The assinine 911 commission's conspiracy theory is falling apart faster than the Kennedy fiasco.
Even as we write, POLITICIANS, from around the WORLD are denoucing the 911 Commission's lie, opps sorry report.
The Government's lie is just too STUPID to be believed.
So Victor it would be nice if you spared us your insults.
Thank you

Posted by DGS | 06.11.08, 19:58 GMT

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The biggest problem that we all face is when Military men fail to question properly the Politicians who direct the armies into combat.

Further problems thus amount when Politicians (so often craven and beholden to Big Business Corporations) allow themselves to be transported along the roads of spin which push for needless wars. Arms Manufacturers - with their bankers and shareholders seem oblivious of how they all contribute to needless death and destruction. They blind themselves with the push for profit - how sad.

Posted by Steve | 04.11.08, 15:45 GMT

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steve, you are so right, perhaps this little tale will open some peoples eyes.
back in the 70s the argentinian government was looking to increase its power in the south atlantic and started threatening the falkland islands, james callahan let it be known to the argentinians that he was sending a nuclear attack sub down and the argentinians backed off. As we know james callahan served in the royal navy in ww2 and obviously appreciated what armed forces can and more importantly cannot do.
cue maggie and john knott, who stripped the defence budget sending the message to the argentinian government that we did not care about the falklands because one of the cutbacks was the patrol vessels hms endurance and we all know what happened next.

Posted by unhappy jon | 03.11.08, 10:13 GMT

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Apologies - I am sorry for leaving out a word of the quote from Roberts book.
The word missing after first-hand is "experience".

I don't expect to be sued because I am not beholden to an indemnifying insurer who would instruct me to deny any mistake and of course I have apologised.

Posted by Steve | 03.11.08, 09:41 GMT

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How very interesting. I have re-read Mr Fisks 'The world of Robert Fisk' volume 2. Page 129 has huge significance now also.

"....Not a single Western leader today has any first-hand of conflict. When the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq began, the most prominent European opponent of the war was Jacques Chirac,who fought in the Algerian conflict. But he has now gone. So has Colin Powell, a Vietnam veteran but him-self duped by Rumsfeld and the CIA"

The rest of the page and more is a must read for the unravelling of so many lies

Posted by Steve | 02.11.08, 14:48 GMT

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I say put the boot in ,stop lending them money,let there economy crash and burn ,it will make the world a much safer place.And if you think the new guy will change things, you are dreaming,they want to be number one no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

Posted by steve lu | 02.11.08, 02:33 GMT

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Douglas Westerman,
Do the men in white jackets know you`ve escaped ? What complete crap!

Posted by Victor | 31.10.08, 23:54 GMT

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Despite the fact that a former Israeli soldier in New Jersey overheard other Israelis talking in Hebrew, saying that the Twin Towers were coming down, and that the "Arabs are so naive" they don't know we are using them. Despite the fact that they also said they had enough people in high places to insure success, despite the fact that Israeli agents were seen by multiple witnesses videoing and celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers, despite the fact that Bin Laden denied it, and many intel agents think that is geniune, and that the later"confessions" are fake, despite the fact that Israel agents were in the Apt. next to the hijackers in FL, most Americans still think 9/11 was masterminded by Muslims. A copy of the Koran along with flight manuals in Arabic??? How gullible can people be? Obviously planted for propaganda purposes.

Posted by Douglas Westerman | 31.10.08, 21:38 GMT

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Many Right Wingers fear that Obama is "un-American". Really? These same right wingers have advocated the very policies which have undermined America's standing in the world. There are few things more "un-American" than this...

Posted by George Arndt | 31.10.08, 21:30 GMT

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51 Comments