Thursday, December 3, 2015

U.S. Prisoner Release Policy: Terrorists Yes, Americans and Human Rights Heroes No - George Phillips



by George Phillips

  • When Carlos Manuel Figuerosa Alvarez climbed over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, U.S. officials turned him over to Cuban police, who, according to reports, detained him and immediately began to beat him. Did U.S. officials assess if Figuerosa's safety was in jeopardy? Did they ignore their own policy that a Cuban may be eligible for refugee status in the U.S. if they are a human rights activist or former political prisoner?
  • A recent report by the Director of National Intelligence showed that of those so far released from Guantanamo Bay, 116 have returned to terrorist or insurgent activities and another 69 are suspected of having done so. These figures represent nearly 30% of released detainees.
  • President Obama pledged, "We are not going to relent until we bring home Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran." But "we" have relented. If not, what are "we" doing to secure the release of the four Americans unjustly in Iranian prison?
The Obama Administration, to the chagrin of opponents of rogue regimes and terrorism, has made generous deals with the autocratic governments of Cuba and Iran, and seems in the process of making the release of terrorist detainees in Guantanamo Bay a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

On Monday November 16 -- two days after terrorists murdered 129 innocent people in Paris -- five more terrorist detainees were released from Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

All five were originally from Yemen and are being released to the United Arab Emirates, a central location in the Middle East from where they can easily return to a life of terrorism.

Of particular concern is the release of Ali al-Razihi, a bodyguard of Osama bin Laden; a review board initially turned down his release.

Declassified documents show that al-Razihi received advanced Al Qaeda training and served in Bin Laden's 55th Arab Brigade.

A report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) this spring showed that of those so far released from Guantanamo Bay, 116 have returned to terrorist or insurgent activities and another 69 are suspected of having done so.

If you combine these two figures, it represents nearly 30% of those who have been released from Guantanamo Bay.

How can we be sure that the five men released to the UAE will not follow the same path?
On the other side of Cuba, in Havana, at the U.S. Embassy -- which should serve as a bastion of freedom in an oppressed nation -- a troubling event occurred on September 30.

When Carlos Manuel Figuerosa Alvarez climbed over the wall of the U.S. Embassy and began shouting, "Down with Raul!" -- meaning Cuban dictator Raul Castro -- U.S. officials turned him over to Cuban police, who, according to reports, detained him and immediately began to beat him.

Figuerosa -- who had originally been arrested at a Human Rights Day protest in 2013 -- was one of the 53 Cuban political prisoners released after a year and half of negotiations that led up to the announcement that the Obama Administration would be opening an embassy in Havana and press for an end of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The U.S. State Department said it would not comment on Figuerosa's case; it was a security issue.

Whose security was at risk? Was it the security of U.S. Embassy workers, because of Figuerosa's protest, or was it Figuerosa's himself because of the brutal regime he was protesting?

Did U.S. officials ask who Figuerosa was or assess if his safety was in jeopardy?

Did U.S. officials fail to neglect information on their own website -- specifically for the U.S. Embassy in Havana – which mentions the policy that a Cuban national may be eligible for refugee status to the United States if they are a human rights activist or a former political prisoner?

When U.S. officials turned Figuerosa over to Cuban police, did they consider what might happen to him in the hands of Cuban authorities? Their own State Department Human Rights Report for Cuba states the protocols for "detainees and prisoners [who have] endured physical abuse" and "were subjected to extended solitary confinement, beatings, restrictions on family visits, and denial of medical care."

Did U.S. officials know that he was one of the 53 political prisoners whose release the Administration had spent so much time and effort trying to secure?

When Cuban dissident and former political prisoner Carlos Manuel Figuerosa Alvarez climbed over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on September 30, U.S. officials turned him over to Cuban police.

When the Obama Administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, there were four American citizens unjustly imprisoned in Iran: Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and former FBI and DEA employee Robert Levinson.

When asked why the release of American hostages was not being advanced as part of the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama's response was to warn about "the logic that that creates. Suddenly, Iran realizes, you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals..."

With the final nuclear deal, the Iranian regime will be getting up to $150 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for dubious inspections of nuclear sites they can control by delaying.

After this incredible giveaway to a leading state sponsor of terrorism, what leverage does the U.S. now have to secure the release of these Americans unjustly in Iranian prison?

Shortly after the Iran nuclear deal was signed -- by the P5+1 nations but not by Iran -- President Obama pledged, "We are not going to relent until we bring home Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran."

Then -- nothing. It appears yet another deception of the "you can keep your doctor" ilk. "We" -- by the way, who is included in that? -- have relented. If not, what are "we" doing to secure the release of these four Americans unjustly in Iranian prison?

Five more suspected terrorists are released from Guantanamo Bay, while four Americans are languishing in Iranian prisons -- and a brave voice of freedom in Cuba is turned away.
 
 
George Phillips served as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, working on human rights issues.
Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6984/us-prisoner-release-policy

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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