Palau takes the Uighurs and the cash

posted at 8:47 am on June 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Palau has accepted the Obama administration’s offer of $200 million to bring 17 trained al-Qaeda terrorists to their island nation.  The government in Palau announced this morning that they would agree to it as a gesture of friendship to the US for all of our assistance to them.  They also don’t mind doubling their GDP this year:

The tropical Pacific island nation of Palau announced Wednesday it will accept up to 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay despite a Pentagon determination that they are not “enemy combatants.” …

President Johnson Toribiong said Palau was accepting the detainees “as a humanitarian gesture” intended to help them restart their lives. His archipelago, with a population of about 20,000, will accept up to 17 of the detainees subject to periodic review, Toribiong said in a statement released to The Associated Press.

“This is but a small thing we can do to thank our best friend and ally for all it has done for Palau,” he said.

Hey, don’t mention it!  At all, preferably, because many of us are embarrassed that the US demanded the favor in the first place.

One can’t blame Palau for taking the deal.  First, their entire GDP for 2008 was $164 million, according to the CIA Factbook.  Over 85,000 tourists visited Palau and provided about $120 million of that.  Now 17 Uighurs will come to Palau with $12 million each.  If they’re truly rehabilitated, well, what a deal, right?  Plus, Palau gets to stick a finger in Beijing’s eye; they don’t recognize the communist regime at all and have close ties to Taiwan.

Of course, with a recidivism rate for released Gitmo detainees of around 14%, odds are that a couple of the Uighurs might not be quite as cuddly as Obama promises.  Hopefully it will work out all right for Palau and its tourists, but if I were making decisions on expensive South Pacific vacations, I’d start looking elsewhere.

As for the other Gitmo detainees, the bidding starts at $12 million per terrorist now.  With around 230 left after the departure of the Uighers, it will cost the US $2.8 billion to empty Gitmo — and you know that France, Germany, and others won’t take a dime less than we gave Palau for hosting them.

Update: Glenn Greenwald calls me “fear stricken,” which is rather humorous from the man shrieking with fear over the Bush administration’s surveillance programs.  How many people did the surveillance kill, and how many people got killed by people trained at al-Qaeda camps?  I’ll wait for Glenn to do the math.

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