Photo: Guantanamo Bay Prison
Guantanamo prosecutors have apologized for documents in which they related Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida to al Qaeda as they attempted to justify military actions at Guantanamo Bay prison.
Trying to cite precedents, the prosecutors reached all the way back to 1818, when Gen. Andrew Jackson ordered U.S. forces to invade then-Spanish Florida to stop black slaves from getting through a weak border. In the end, two British men were executed for helping the Seminole Indians.
“Not only was the Seminole belligerency unlawful, but, much like modern-day al Qaeda,” wrote Navy Capt. Edward S. White, “the very way in which the Seminoles waged war against U.S. targets itself violate the customs and usages of war.”
Army Col. Francis Gilligan (retired), defending the 2008 conviction of Osama Bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, said in the 1818 case, “the substance there was the savage killing of civilians.” Adding, “the goal we know of al Qaeda is the savage killing of Americans wherever they find them throughout the world.”
On the very same day as Gilligan’s comments, the National Congress of American Indians wrote, ““We wish to express our significant concern at the distorted and offensive historical analogy used by the United States in this case when it compared the first ‘Seminole War’ of 1817-18 to the terrorism of al Qaeda. The comparison of Native Americans to al Qaeda is disrespectful” to the nearly 24,000 American Indians serving in the U.S. armed force, and another 380,000 veterans.