Uganda Is Kenya's Guantanamo Bay

Uganda Is Kenya's Guantanamo Bay


In Summary

In January 2002, four months after the 9/11 attack in New York, a team led by Pierre-Richard Prosper, the State Department's ambassador at large for war crimes, met at the 7th floor conference room at the State Department.

They spread out a big map of the world on the table. Their task was to find a place or country where America could detain about 300 Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters captured in Afghanistan.

After suggesting a number of countries, someone said: "What about Guantanamo?"

This search was informed by a raging debate going on within the Bush administration on the establishment of a military commission and the powers of the president following the terrorism attack.

Many Americans didn't agree with the process that followed the establishment of the military commissions and the trials that occurred in Guantanamo.

This is a process that was conceived and micro-managed by Dick Cheney.

Even if one doesn't agree with his tough plan, what is greatly admirable about Cheney and the sloth of lawyers at his service was a fidelity to the law.

Every decision the administration took was engineered by Cheney.

And every idea by Cheney was interrogated and then fortified by a legal opinion written by David Addington, Cheney's longtime aide, and John Yoo.

And, at every turn, Bush asked his advice on what the law was vis-a-vis a given issue.

One could be forgiven to think that their legal rationalisation of the war effort was written by Kanu lawyers of 1980s, but nonetheless, they always made very persuasive arguments on expanding the presidential powers to new frontiers.

Take for example their assertion that the president, by virtue of being the commander in chief of the armed forces, is literally above the law. That the attack on New York wasn't a terrorism attack, but a declaration of war.

That the president has inherent powers to do as he desires.

The Kibaki administration faces a similar problem as did George Bush but does not have any idea how to address it.

Kibaki has a Muslim problem and is bent on aggravating it.

Kenya has a number of Muslim citizens like Al Amin Kimathi and others that it doesn't know how to deal with.

They are very vociferous civil society members that fight for the human rights of Muslims. The government is suspicious of their activities.It has no credible evidence that these individuals are tied to al-Qaeda or other terrorist organisations.

Kibaki's policy on this sector of society is managed by foreign powers. To make matters worse, Kibaki doesn't have the legal ingenuity or resources George Bush had.

Like the group at the State Department led by Mr Prosper, they looked for their Guantanamo, and they settled on Uganda.

Kenyans are united to fight terrorism of all kind. In fact all Kenyan citizens have a civic duty to kelp the government fight terrorism.

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