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Editor's Blog

Morning briefing: Who will take the detainees?

By / May 4, 2009



Perhaps the thorniest issue of current diplomacy is the case of Bush-era detainees at Guantánamo.
President Obama wasted no time after his inauguration in closing the Guantánamo -- a move applauded by US allies. Of the several hundred detainees held there, 30 are now ready for release. Attorney General Eric Holder has been trying to persuade European allies to take some of them.
As Monitor correspondent Jeffrey White writes today, allied leaders are balking "largely because they insist they would not know who they are getting, and why they were detained in the first place." In other words, they were not in favor the war-on-terror detention program, so why should they have to receive the detainees?
It gets more complicated. White points out that there is growing evidence of secret European cooperation in the US-led rendition and torture program. Did this happen with the knowledge of European leaders or were intelligence agencies doing business among themselves?
This is where democracies once again prove how messy they are. Decisions get made at many levels. Leaders are voted in and out. Sorting out responsibility and dealing with aftermath is never simple.

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