As the search for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar intensifies in Afghanistan, so have US efforts to capture andquestion suspected Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. Over the last two days alone, at least 30 new prisoners have beenbrought to detention centers in Afghanistan, where they are being probed for information on the whereabouts of themissing leaders. These additions bring the total number of prisoners held by the United States up to 180, with moreexpected to follow as the hunt for Omar and bin Laden continues.
At present, the prisoners are being held in a variety of makeshift detention centers in Afghanistan. According toWar Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, they will soon be sent to more permanent facilities at the U.S. Navy base atGuantanamo Bay, Cuba. There they will undergo further interrogation by the FBI and CIA and await trial, possibly bymilitary tribunal. As of last week, the government was saying that it has no plans to use Guantanamo for thesetribunals.
The U.S. base at Guantanamo has a controversial history, and this will not be the first time that it has been used asa detention center. From late 1991 until June 1993, 267 HIV-positive Haitian refugees were held at the base afterfleeing political violence in their country.
- Michael Ratner, lawyer, Center for Constitutional Rights.
- Ninaj Raoul, Director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees.