President Obama is reported to have asked for another plan to close the Guantanamo Detention Center. Is this another Don Quixote event or will something actually take place? Hmmm.
Congress enacted legislation which effectively prevents the President from moving detainees to US prisons. Congress also requires notification of any planned transfer of detainees to another Country. Many Congress members want Guantanamo to remain open indefinitely and see nothing wrong with holding prisoners without charges or the benefit of a trial. I wonder how these Senators and Representatives did on their high school civics exams?
On every basis, this Congressional position is short sighted and internal inconsistent. Most obviously, US maximum security prisons are more than adequate to house safely anyone currently detained at Guantanamo.
Second, Guantanamo stands for the world to see how hypocritical the US can be about its Constitution, its views on human rights, and other honored historic values.
And, third, Guantanamo represents a crowning accomplishment for American Executive Authority gone wrong. The remaining 145 or so detainees are composed of “the worst of the worst” with some pretty dangerous but far short of the “worst of the worst” detainees.
So what’s wrong with Congress wanting to keep these detainees indefinitely?
One must ask a question first. Why are these specific detainees in custody? Why not others? Are all the other radicals and extremists we read and hear about in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria (not to mention much of Africa) less dangerous than the ones we are holding at Guantanamo? Hmmm.
Supporters of indefinite detention claim if the Guantanamo detainees were released they would immediately take up arms against the US where ever they could. Hmmm. That is likely a true statement since I think I would be very angry if I had been held captive as long as these detainees have.
But the point here is much more obvious. The 145 or so detainees are a drop in the bucket versus all the other young potential recruits waiting to join the “jihad”. Logic would lead one quickly to cutting ones losses and sending the detainees back to their country of origin or simply put these detainees on trial. So why hasn’t it happened?
Military commissions or civil courts all present the same hurdle. What is admissible evidence? Enhanced interrogation, short hand for water boarding and torture, apparently taints most of the important evidence. Civil courts would most likely recognize a writ of habeas corpus and would not accept evidence gained by torture. Hello… these are values which each of us would want were we detained.
The Congressional objection to closing Guantanamo results from first and foremost a desire to not litigate enhanced interrogation. For sure there are Congress Members who think they are singing to the choir by taking a tough public position on not closing Guantanamo. Any logical public discussion, however, would reveal a faulty and self serving argument.
Its time to close Guantanamo.