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Euro-dhimmies tell Obambi to keep Gitmo apes locked up…
Europe hedges on GuantÃ¡namo detainees
Gitmo luxury: everything a headbanger needs…
European countries that have offered to help the Obama administration close the detention center at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba, by resettling detainees have begun raising questions about the security risks and requirements if they accept prisoners described by the Bush administration as “the worst of the worst,” according to diplomats and other officials on both sides of the Atlantic.
The concerns, and a deep suspicion of whether the American intelligence community will share full information on the prisoners, are likely to complicate the resettlement effort, which is critical to President Barack Obama’s fulfilling his pledge to close GuantÃ¡namo within a year.
The offers, from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, have been widely seen as efforts to win favor with the new administration by helping to close the camp in Cuba, which was a contentious issue during the Bush years.
Still, with a first round of talks on the GuantÃ¡namo issues scheduled for Monday in Washington between Obama administration officials and a high-level delegation from the European Union, several European leaders have recently emphasized that they can make no firm commitments until they are given complete details on the prisoners.
“We’d have to study concrete cases,” MarÃa Teresa FernÃ¡ndez de la Vega Sanz, Spain’s deputy prime minister, said in an interview last week.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently told reporters she was “quite encouraged at the positive, receptive responses we’ve been getting” to requests for help in accepting GuantÃ¡namo detainees.
But some European officials said the Obama administration had yet to detail what would be involved in resettling detainees and whether the United States would also open its doors to GuantÃ¡namo prisoners, which the Bush administration declined to do. It is not clear exactly what conditions the Obama administration may wish to impose, what their immigration status would be or whether any detainees released to Europe would be eligible for complete freedom. “We understand, you have a big problem,” said one European official who said he would speak only if not identified. “And we appreciate what President Obama has said about closing GuantÃ¡namo. But that doesn’t automatically mean putting all the remaining inmates on a plane and sending them to Europe.”
Obama administration officials say some 60 of the remaining 241 detainees, those who cannot be sent to their home countries for humanitarian or other reasons, could be resettled in Europe.
A senior State Department official conceded that there were some concerns in Europe about accepting GuantÃ¡namo detainees. But the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not designated to speak publicly on the issue, argued: “It is really just a small effort to help us deal with a legacy of the past. This is something we inherited, too.”
A senior French official said France was “ready to help,” but that “GuantÃ¡namo is an American responsibility.”
“It’s not an absolute condition, but it would be easier if the U.S. administration is willing to take some detainees,” said the French official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as did several officials in other countries, to avoid antagonizing the Obama administration.
American officials conceded that talks with Europe were likely to be complex, but said they were working with intelligence agencies to provide as much information about detainees as possible. The senior State Department official said that the White House was considering whether any detainees might be admitted into the United States, in part because of the European focus on that issue.
The detainees most often mentioned for resettlement in the United States are 17 Uighurs, members of a Chinese Muslim minority, who American officials say cannot be returned to China for fear of mistreatment. The men have argued that they were allies of the United States who were wrongly rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001. After court battles, the Bush administration conceded that the men were not enemies of the United States.
Both American and European Union officials described the talks scheduled for Monday as a critical first step for any possible resettlement of GuantÃ¡namo detainees, saying that common European ground rules would ease the way toward decisions by individual countries.
Jacques Barrot, a European Union vice president who is to lead the European delegation, said there was an opportunity “to turn together a dark page” in the history of the fight against terrorism. But officials said the delegation was arriving with far more questions than answers.
Among the host of questions, European officials said, was whether the former prisoners would need to be monitored, whether they would have full travel rights in Europe and whether detainees might entangle their countries’ courts in years of legal battles by suing former American officials for their imprisonment and treatment.
Obama administration officials are working on a two-pronged plan to close the prison. They are analyzing how many detainees might be tried, most likely in the United States, and working toward transferring scores of the others.
The Bush administration often failed when it asked other countries to accept detainees, partly because those requests were usually accompanied by public comments defending the imprisonments by describing the detainees as dangerous terrorists.
The new administration is sending a different message. “We are less vested in trying to prove that these people are rightly held,” the senior State Department official said.
Given that stance by the Obama administration, some European officials say Washington’s focus on sending the detainees to Europe raises many questions.
Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schauble, has suggested publicly that if GuantÃ¡namo detainees pose no security risk, there is no reason the United States should not take them.
“We should know what is being asked of us,” said Pekka Lintu, Finland’s ambassador in Washington.