Thursday, April 30, 2009

As Shakespeare Said: "A Gitmo by Any Other Name..."

Secretary of Defense Gates said today that we may bring 100 detainees from Gitmo and hold them in the United States after the prison is closed at the end of the year. Gates said that they may need to spend $50 million to build a new prison block for the detainees.

My frustration level at this situation is reaching an all time high. The closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay is largely a symbolic step. For years the detainees held there were given no rights and were subjected to harsh treatment and interrogation. However, I think that we've cracked down on the harsh treatment and even some constitutional rights in the form of habeas corpus were extended to the detainees in Boumediene because the decision said that the prison there is effectively under the control of the United States. I think that if we kept Gitmo open that we would see even more constitutional rights extended to the prisoners there. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make here is that moving the remaining detainees from Gitmo to the U.S. solves nothing at this point. The problems now lie with what we are supposed to do with these guys not where they are held. The 100 prisoners that may be moved into the U.S. are going to be those prisoners that we can't try here and can't find another country which we can send them to so why move them at all. This means that these detainees may successfully challenge their detention through habeas corpus and secure their right to release from prison, but we can't actually grant them release. So we've extended them a constitutional right to challenge their detention, but cannot honor their constitutional right to release after a successful challenge. Their right to habeas is basically pointless. That is what we need to be concerned with.

Other than the fact that Obama ordered the prison to be closed within a year of the order there is no difference in them being held at Gitmo and them being held here in the United States. They have no chance of being released from either one of them so why spend money moving them and possibly spend millions more building a new cell block to hold them. Tell you what Secretary Gates, you can hold all them in my basement as long as you pay my mortgage. That should save you some money and will work to achieve the same goal of physically moving the detainees from detention in Cuba to detention in the continental U.S. You should use the millions you save to pay off other countries to take the detainees.

The frustrating part is that we've got no one to blame but ourselves for this mess. I'll try to sum up how we ended up in this mess in one long run on sentence. We run around willy-nilly capturing every guy we think looks like a terrorist, throw them into Gitmo, rough them up, tag them as "enemy combatants" in the war on terror, by doing this we permanently brand these guys as terrorists, we realize we went way too far, shut the whole operation down, and now we are left with a bunch of guys who may very well not be terrorists but whom no one wants (including us) because they have been permanently branded as terrorists by our actions. Great. How about we stop talking about where we are going to house these guys and start talking about how we are going to release them?

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