The Guardian's "comment is free" site had a post a few days ago by Moazzam Begg, a Briton of Pakistani descent, now famous for his detention for three years at Guantanamo Bay. Begg is the author of a book called Enemy Combatant, in which he details his experiences.
While his account of his experiences confirm what I have read elsewhere about the whole system of detention, interrogation and torture in the so-called war on terror, I have found the responses to Moazzam Begg's writing and public utterances to be quite striking. While there are many people who are sympathetic to him, there is also a strong current of animosity towards him. The UK Telegraph is one source of skepticism about Begg's claims of innocence. The commenters on his post at the Guardian's site, among others, point out the following: he was a member of a street gang called the Lynx in the mid 1990s; he was arrested for social benefits fraud in 1994; a search of his home revealed night vision goggles and flak jackets; he was associated with a fellow called Shahid Akram Butt who was convicted of benefits fraud in Britain and later of terrorism in Yemen; he was running an Islamist bookshop called Maktabah al Ansar which sold titles like The Virtues of Jihad; he had attended training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s and provided financial support to jihadi fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya; he was present in Afghanistan in late 2001 just prior to his arrest in Pakistan; a copy of a money order bearing the name Moazzam Begg was found at an Al Qaeda training camp. Begg has not denied much of this, except to claim that the name match was a case of mistaken identity.
If you view this evidence from the point of view of law enforcement, there seems to be very good reason to be quite suspicious of Begg. The logical leap from being suspicious to saying that "The only way Begg should have left Gitmo is in a coffin ..", as a reviewer of his book did on Amazon.com, is deeply flawed, but is unfortunately made too easily by too many people. Mere suspicion is not cause for indefinite detention and even less so for torture and killing. By all means, haul suspects before a court of law and use the full force of the legal machinery to punish them if they are guilty. Even the most heinous serial killers are charged and given their day in court, but the Bush administration keeps arguing that the suspects at Guantanamo have to be treated differently. The most basic injustice inherent in Guantanamo is the attempt by the US government to bypass the legal system entirely.
As Begg has pointed out in interviews, the US government never charged him with anything, and released him finally in January 2005.