American Talons of Justice - A Different Kind of Handcuffs
“To close Gitmo or not, that is the question,” and no, that is not a new opening phrase of a soliloquy from Shakespeare, either.
Imagine for a minute that POWs were still being held in North Vietnam at the so-called “Hanoi Hilton” in that undeclared war – a war the North Vietnamese called “unlawful and illegal” and thus were labeled “war criminals.” Where would the American public stand on that? Let's ask Sen. John McCain shall we?
- Open and in operation for almost 14 years.
- Opened by President George W. Bush in the months following September 11 attacks.
- Continues to have a powerful radicalizing effect.
- By most standards continues to severely tarnish our standing as a nation of laws and justice.
- Costs taxpayers more than $5.2 billion to date.
- 115 detainees remain out the original roughly 780 who have been detained there.
- 53 are held under the so-called Law-of-War Detention but have been recommended for transfer if certain security conditions can be met.
- Nearly half of that 53 have indeed been cleared for release, but with no place to go.
- 10 have been convicted by the military tribunal, or have cases still pending there.
- 52 who have never been charged with a crime but for whom there is currently no path to freedom or due process (the stain part).
The military commissions are a legal farce and a practical failure. If the government wants to prosecute detainees, there is a well-established system in place: the United States federal courts.
In contrast to the feckless commissions, federal prosecutors have won convictions in roughly 200 terrorism cases since the September 11 attacks, including that of a former Guantánamo detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Africa.
At the same time, this all-GOP Congress argues detainees should not be on American soil – anywhere – however, dangerous prisoners are not new to to counter that weak argument. The “Supermax” in Florence, CO, dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” already holds convicted terrorists, including the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski and Zacarias Moussaoui (the 20th hijacker on 9/11), and one of the conspirators. However, the GOP is unlikely to approve anything Mr. Obama puts forth as a plan, and that is very unfortunate.
Thanks for stopping. Related history on this topic is listed more below on this blog - enjoy.