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Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, writes in The Washington Note about “the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan” during the early days of U.S. operations there. “Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”
Having too few adequately trained troops and civilians, combined with pressure from then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to “just get the bastards to the interrogators” meant lots of hasty abductions of the wrong people, many of whom were sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Moreover, Wilkerson writes, “several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.”
Another unknown, a part of the fabric of the foregoing four, was the sheer incompetence involved in cataloging and maintaining the pertinent factors surrounding the detainees that might be relevant in any eventual legal proceedings, whether in an established court system or even in a kangaroo court that pretended to at least a few of the essentials, such as evidence.
Simply stated, even for those two dozen or so of the detainees who might well be hardcore terrorists, there was virtually no chain of custody, no disciplined handling of evidence, and no attention to the details that almost any court system would demand. Falling back on "sources and methods" and "intelligence secrets" became the Bush administration's modus operandi to camouflage this grievous failing.
But their ultimate cover was that the struggle in which they were involved was war and in war those detained could be kept for the duration. And this war, by their own pronouncements, had no end. For political purposes, they knew it certainly had no end within their allotted four to eight years. Moreover, its not having an end, properly exploited, would help ensure their eight rather than four years in office.