How ironic to read the op-ed from John Bellinger seeking the help of the European Community in accepting men from Guantanamo. To say merely that Mr. Bellinger's op-ed "defies credulity" would be somewhat unfair to the term "defies credulity." Is Mr. Bellinger actually suggesting that it is because of the diplomatic efforts of the Rice State Department that European Countries are now considering taking some of these men after Obama becomes President?
I am an attorney for two of the men being held at Guantanamo and I have been representing these men pro bono for over three years. One of my clients is very ill and has not been given proper medical care while being held illegally at the military base these seven years. At my own expense I have traveled and lobbied several European countries seeking a safe place for that client to be transferred and for medical help. In Switzerland I found a medical doctor and hospital that volunteered to care for my client and they arranged for funding so that the people of Switzerland would not be footing the bill. After almost a year of my lobbying the Swiss Government they finally agreed to approach officials at the State Department to discuss my client’s possible transfer to Switzerland. I gave them the name of none other than Mr. John Bellinger because of his position in the State Department with jurisdiction over “detainee affairs.” Swiss officials contacted Mr. Bellinger more than a year ago and asked the State Department to make an official request to them to take my client so that the Swiss government could make their own official determination. Mr. Bellinger refused the request of the Swiss officials and instead suggested that the State Department might consider a request from the Swiss if the Swiss wanted to make an official request to the State Department for my clients transfer to Switzerland. My Congressional Representative attempted to intervene and convince Mr. Bellinger to reconsider but he adamantly refused. My client, who the government knows is guilty of no wrong-doing, has languished in ill health at Guantanamo for yet another year because of the arrogance of Mr. Bellinger and his superiors in the Bush Administration.
All I can say to Mr. Bellinger and the “diplomatic efforts” of the Bush State Department is that they are as credible as the Bush Administration’s denials of torture, that its practices and procedures conform to the rule of law, or that Guantanamo is full of the “worst of the worst” (2/3 of whom have been unilaterally released by it!) In short, what is best said to Mr. Bellinger and the diplomatic efforts of the Bush State Department is good Riddance.