It is now almost two years after President Obama announced he would close the Guantanamo detention center within one year. As we enter 2011, Gitmo is still going strong and frankly shows no signs of being close to an end. So much for the shallow thinkers of the Bush Administration.
Guantanamo represented a genuine effort by government leaders to deal with the vague but deadly threat of islamic extremists. Unfortunately while the Bush Administration wanted to serve America, they instead have defamed our nation’s image and strengthened these terrorist resolve (and ability to recruit new terrorists). In this process, the US has spent over a trillion dollars and lost over 6000 American lives.
But collecting prisoners from all sorts of places and concentrating them in Guantanamo boggles the mind. How does one get this tar baby ever off our hands?
Some describe the prisoners in Guantanamo as enemy combatants, caught on the battle field, and unworthy of any justice such as receiving criminal charges and receiving a fair trial. It may surprise some that there could be prisoners who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But let’s consider that most there are the worst of the worst. Why do we not charge them and then try them? Oh, is it possible they may have been tortured? Is it possible that some evidence is hearsay and also obtained by torture?
The Supreme Court has ruled that Guantanamo does represent US territory and therefore prisoners should have access to protections of our Constitution. This would not be the case had these prisoners remained in Iraq or Afghanistan under detention there. While I think the fastest and surest method of justice is to charge and try these prisoners in US courts, military commissions would be ok with two provisions. (1) No hearsay evidence or evidence obtained by torture, and (2) if a prisoner is found not guilty, no further detention for any reason. So far these have been politically unacceptable conditions.
Guantanamo has served us little purpose and only served to put US in third world country status. On top of this, there is no shortage of terrorists and al Qaeda franchises are showing up in several countries. The Afghan conflict is going on with little regard for Guantanamo. US morale authority has a gapping hole as long as Gitmo remains in operation. It is time to end this policy blunder.