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July 16, 2007

What do we do with 23,000 Iraqi Detainees
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

For a long time human rights advocates have been up in arms over Guantanamo.  However, we’re actually facing a much uglier situation today in Iraq.  Alex Barker and Demetri Sevastopulo at the FT report (Sorry subscription only) that American forces are currently detaining 23,000 people in Iraq without any kind of due process. 

The U.S. government can’t exactly let them go because a lot of these detainees are dangerous people.  On the other hand, giving over a prison population, which is 86% Sunni, to a Shi’a dominated government in the middle of a civil war doesn’t exactly strike me as a good idea.  However, if American forces are going to eventually leave they’ll have to figure out what to do with all these guys.  Apparently our government is already on it.   Barker and Sevastopulo report:

The US has spent several years attempting to get the Iraqi government to assume responsibility for the detainees, but has missed its own targets for the transition. Pressure is growing to resolve the problem, but such a move would amount to an unprecedented transfer of prisoners from a western power to a weak, sectarian government presiding over what most experts have concluded is a civil war.

Let freedom ring.

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Not to mention that U.S. and Iraqi officials have released approximately 44,000 of 65,000 (68%) suspected Iraqi insurgents or sectarian killers detained at the theater level since March 2003. And fewer than 600 captives have been transferred to the Iraqi government for prosecution. Some other details are here

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