January 23, 2009

Are We A Nation of Scared Punks Now?

The debate over the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the disposition of the remaining 240 detainees has plateaued out to a ridiculous level of near hysterical hyperbole on the right. My fellow conservative brethren are practically hyperventilating with fear at the prospect that Gitmo will be closed and its occupants shipped off to other countries or (horrors!) to maximum security prisons stateside.

Gitmo was from the outset part of a system of extra judicial prisons, intended from the get go to evade the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and exploit the shortcomings of the Geneva Conventions and other international laws. My fellow conservative brethren argue that Gitmo is necessary to house these dangerous terrorists plucked from the battlefield. There is merit to this arguement. Terrorists are an unconventional enemy. They wear no uniform, fight under no flag. The Bush administration was reluctant to bring these captured fighters into the US, but needed someplace to house and interrogate them at length. However, there are rules of war, even if the other side does not acknowledge them, and there are basic ideals and principles.

Gitmo's fundamental problem is that its practice is fundamentally at odds with American ideals. Taking people, even terrorists, and throwing them in a hole indefinitely, without a trial, without due process or any recourse to seek review of their situation simply does not square with American values. For the longest, that was Gitmo's practice and there were people detained for years who didn't warrant incarceration in Gitmo. Then under pressure, the administration and the congress developed the military tribunals and twice had the Supreme Court tell them their process was insufficient to render some level of meaningful due process. Several military lawyers have resigned from cases rather than operate under a system so lacking in real due process, the tribunals were a preconcieved result.

This brings us back to where I started. President Obama has now ordered the closing of Gitmo within a year, and a process for the disposition of the remaining detainees must now be developed. People are freaking now about how the detainees will be released to kill again, and how they are waaaayyy too dangerous to be housed anywhere stateside. PLEASE!

For sake of argument, lets stipulate that all are foreign fighters, killers of the first order, bent on our destruction. SO WHAT? American prisons are full of the most vile, violent and manevolent humans on the planet. Serial killers, gang bangers, contract killers, mobsters and more. All housed in prisons across America. These guys are not any more dangerous than some of the monsters we have locked up now. We're not talking about Lex Luthor type criminal masterminds who can bust out of jail whenever they please. The argument that the danger qoutient of any locale they might be located in will tip into the red is ludicrous, hysterical hyperbole. As conservatives, it is nothing but intellectual dishonesty for the sake of winning a political argument to suggest that we are justifiably concerned about these terrorist prisoners being anywhere near our neighborhoods, but we aren't saying boo about some of the hair raising criminal animals locked up in our states right now. We don't walk around worrying about the serial killers, mobsters and other vile criminals locked up in our regions. Why are these terrorist criminals different? Because they kill for political goals? They are not different and the same prisons that keep all the other scumbags locked away will do just fine for them.

I mean the arguments are ludicrous. I listened to ten minutes of O'Rielly advancing the argument that the detainees would prefer to stay at Gitmo (as though their preferences have any bearing on the issue in the first instance) because if they were to be released into the general prison population anywhere, they would be killed. My response to this: SO WHAT. How is it that the Gitmo detainees should be entitled to a better prison experience than the average American criminal?

Obama made the right call. Gitmo was justifiable as a brief abberation in the aftermath of 9/11, but its simply not a sustainable premise to say we will lock people up for as long as we want and they have no recourse to challenge this. Add on the issue of torture and the mess is compounded.

Members of Congress are calling Sec.Def Gates to tell him how they don't want any of these people in their backyards. What a bunch of wimps. If these guys were so damn incredibly hard core, they wouldn't still be in Gitmo. You stick them in a Super Max somewhere, they are not going anywhere, just like the other hardcore killers we lock up. The GOP sound like a bunch of fear mongers with this hysterical drivel.