"These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms ... but they were there to kill."
-- President Bush, June 20, 2005
"These detainees are dangerous enemy combatants....They were picked up on the battlefield, fighting American forces, trying to kill American forces."-- White House press secretary Scott McClellan, June 21, 2005
"The people that are there are people we picked up on the battlefield, primarily in Afghanistan. They're terrorists. They're bomb makers. They're facilitators of terror. They're members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban....We've let go those that we've deemed not to be a continuing threat. But the 520-some that are there now are serious, deadly threats to the United States."-- Vice President Cheney, June 23, 2005
"These are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden's] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker."
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, June 27, 2005
These quotes are representative of countless assertions by administration officials over the past four years that all -- or the vast majority -- of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are Qaeda terrorists or Taliban fighters captured on "the battlefield."
The assertions have been false. And those quoted above came long after the evidence of their falsity should have been manifest to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their subordinates.
I can imagine Gonzales's testimony going something like this:
"As you know, Senator, we're in a war of ideas, and so 'the battlefield' is in each of our heads, and that's where these people were detained, and we think that's an appropriate interpretation."
The NP story gets worse:
The tribunal hearings, based largely on such guilt-by-association logic, have been travesties of unfairness. The detainees are presumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence -- without help from lawyers and without being permitted to know the details and sources of the evidence against them. This evidence is almost entirely hearsay from people without firsthand knowledge and statements from other detainees desperate to satisfy their brutally coercive interrogators. One file says, "Admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden," based on an interrogation in which the detainee -- while being pressed to "admit" this, despite his denials -- finally said in disgust, "OK, I knew him; whatever you want."
And now we can't let the guy go, because he freaking hates us.