Washington’s Blog
March 9, 2011

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Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke wrote in May 2009 that America’s indefinite detention without trial is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool:

On detention, the Bush team leaped to the assumption that U.S. courts and prisons would not work. Before the terrorist attacks, the U.S. counterterrorism program of the 1990s had arrested al-Qaeda terrorists and others around the world and had a 100 percent conviction rate in the U.S. justice system. Yet the American system was abandoned, again as part of a pattern of immediately adopting the most extreme response available. Camps were established around the world, notably in Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners were held without being charged or tried. They became symbols of American overreach, held up as proof that al-Qaeda’s anti-American propaganda was right.

The same month, I interviewed one of the world’s leading experts on terror – Terrell (Terry) E. Arnold, and Arnold agreed with Clarke:

WB: I’m interested in your views on whether releasing the photos of the “harsh interrogation” would create a wave of anti-American sentiment, and whether the additional risk it is alleged to create to our troops is justified?

Terry Arnold: I think the chances are pretty good that such pictures will increase the anger, but I fear that the real damage already has been done by:

(a) keeping hundreds of young men in confinement without trial;

(b) having it known by various channels that they were tortured, and

(c) reports that the Americans intend to keep many of these young people in confinement for the indefinite future because their captors are afraid to let them go.


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(Arnold’s statement is particularly relevant since Obama is considering indefinitely detaining the Guantanamo detainees without a real trial under the U.S. justice system)

Monday, Obama did sign an executive order creating an indefinite detention system for prisoners at Guantanamo.

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