Thursday, June 5, 2008

Think being president is easy?

How would you solve this mess? James Taranto:

"Lawmakers chastised the Bush administration on Wednesday for allowing the Chinese government to interrogate Chinese Muslim detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and demanded that they be freed in the United States," the Associated Press reports:

The two lawmakers, Reps. Bill Delahunt, D-Massachusetts, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, said the Uighurs--members of a Chinese ethnic group--should be compensated and apologized to for any abuse they may have suffered while held in the detention center at U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Uighurs fled their homeland in western China and settled in Afghanistan and Pakistan, only to be swept up in the U.S.-led dragnet for terrorists after the September 11 attacks.

We heard about the Uighurs when we visited Guantanamo in 2006. It is true that they do not belong at Guantanamo. But the AP's benign account of their having "settled" in Afghanistan and been "swept up" is at variance with what we learned at Guantanamo.

Officials at the detention facility told us that the Uighurs were in fact planning acts of terrorism--but against China. They are not enemies of the U.S., and hence do not belong in an American facility for enemy combatants.

The problem is what to do with them. Normally when a detainee is released from Guantanamo, he is repatriated to his home country. That is not an option in this case because they are Chinese nationals and, as the AP notes, U.S. law prohibits returning them to China, where "they are likely to face persecution and torture."

So the U.S. has been attempting to settle them in other lands. Albania admitted five Uighurs in 2006, but "as of two months ago, 17 Uighurs remained at Guantanamo, awaiting countries to take them."

As for the congressmen's proposal to settle them in the U.S., well, do you want to live next door to them? They are hard to place for a reason. More important, it seems to us that Beijing would have reason to view as a provocation an American decision to give safe haven to men who planned terrorist acts against China.