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Closing Guantanamo: Constitution vs. Security

Our Readers Who Comment are in a stew this morning over Peter Finn's report that one of President-Elect Barak Obama's priorities is to close Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. prison in Cuba.

Their comments reflect both abhorrence and support. Readers debate in sometimes less than polite ways a conflict between the constitution and homeland security. Some see proposals to close the prison as proof of concerns that Obama is soft on terrorism (a constant undercurrent in comments on articles during the campaign).

If there is agreement on anything, it is that the whole question of how to close Guantanamo is fraught with complexity, not something that can be achieved "this afternoon," as former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would do. That was in June long before he publicly endorsed Obama.

Several readers worry that the Guantanamo issue would get in the way of other pressing concerns, such as the economy.

We'll start with cassv, who best made a point expressed by several in writing, "The Guantanamo Bay detention facility is one of the most widely used recruiting devices by al Qaeda, which uses it to show the supposed hypocrisy of the United States with respect to human rights. Closing the facility, while presenting difficult policy and legal problems of its own, is the right thing to do."

Kingofkings1 said, "...USA is not the first governing body that has had to deal with dangerous individuals who did not agree with its policies...Get rid of guantanamo ASAP and welcome back to civilization"

To which Dolmance replied, "No, Kingofkings, they aren't there for disagreeing with our policies... the good opinion of somebody in Switzerland or somewhere similar is not nearly as important as keeping our citizens from having to jump out of 100 story buildings with their clothes on fire."

And Kingofkings1 said, "...Dolamnace, punishing the guilty individuals is not what most people worry about - we worry that one day you might end up in a situation like that with no legal protection. More than one person in guantanamo has been tortured that wasn't guilty of any crime. That is the real shame"

roysecondchance wrote, "...Yes it will [be] legally complex-so what-Americas good name is on the line... No doubt closure of Gitmo in neocon quarters would set up a storm of Obama is a terrorist etc or soft on terrorism etc etc. So what-the world needs America back in its rightful position as not only a superpower in arms but a superpower in human rights standards."

ooyah32 said, "So, the critics were right all along -- Obama thinks that Osama bin Laden should enjoy a presumption of innocence and, if he is captured, he should be given a lawyer right there on the battlefield."

To which lagging replied, "...Given the fact that Bin Laden has publicly incriminated himself a near endless amount of times, he'd be found guilty in a way that can stand up to public scrutiny. It'd be a massive victory. Compare that to an automatic conviction by... military tribunals...It'd be merely considered a vengence killing. Doing things the right way is certainly harder, but the rewards are also much greater."

mbinder1 added, "ooyah32, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is the very foundation of justice. Lose that and the whole concept of justice goes out the window."

rscott251 wrote, "... Now he [Obama] has to deal with reality. Either let in those captured on the battlefield... or send them back to TORTURE in their home countries... who view them as a threat. Great, we'll have terrorists dining in NYC now thanks to the Obamonites and legal scholars."

Larry1041st said, "Now is the time for Liberals to adopt a detainee, from Guantanamo. Show them the good life, receive welfare, SS, which will be provided by the government."

rschmieder wrote, "Let's keep our eye on the ball. I don't like Guantanamo, but it's largely a symbolic issue...It's time to think about the economy, jobs, energy, healthcare, and climate change. The rest is either unsolvable (abortion, death penalty, gay rights, eetc.) or will take care of itself in time (Iraq, guantanamo)..."

But RealChoices said, "... Don't be blinded by anti-American fanaticism. There are plenty of bad people in Gitmo, such as Khalid Sheik Muhammed. We don't want him running free."

clive1 suggested, "Keep Guantanamo Bay open - send Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld there."

itchy2008 wrote, "I'll begin to recognize the US I grew up in again when Gitmo is finally shut down. The idea that that facility could in any way be associated with America, or even democracy in general is ample evidence of the depravity and anti-democratic aims of the Bush administration and its toadys..."

book134 said, "...If the US government does not wish to prosecute... officials may turn these criminals over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague... Eventually, the US will have to take action to bring these vile criminals to the bar of justice for to refuse to do so, will continue the overall impression that the US promotes the violation of major laws involving War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity..."

We'll close with timothy2me, who wrote, "A lot of constitution hating fascists posting their hate, fear and cowardness on this topic. Gitmo was an attempt to do and end run around the constitution. It is an open assult on everything the US stands for or at least once did and hopefully will again."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  November 12, 2008; 7:47 AM ET
Categories:  Guantanamo , Obama , Terrorism , Torture  | Tags: Guantanamo, Terrorism, Torture  
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Shut down Gitmo, America's most embarassing example of hipocracy, and put those detainees on trial. We've had Kalid Shiek Mohammed in custody for years. I'm sure there are a few people in NY and Washington who would love to see justice done to that slimeball. But no, he's living his life in Gitmo on government expense where justice is not being served.

There are many others there as well. Lets give them all a trial and if found guilty put them in jail along with the guys who tried to blow up the trade center in the early 90s. Clinton tried them and justice was served. Just what is Bush afraid of? And if any of these bozos get off because Bush broke laws by torturing them, then let Bush take their place in jail.

Posted by: bevjims1 | November 12, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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