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Still No Spine on Gitmo

Maybe Congress took my advice? Well, not quite.

On Wednesday, I lambasted Congress for confounding President Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Among other things, I criticized the House for passing a nonbinding resolution on the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill calling for an outright ban on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the United States. Transferring detainees, of course, is an essential step if the prison -- which, as anyone who has ever spoken to a non-American knows, is a rallying symbol for anti-American sentiment -- is to be closed. Eighty-eight Democrats, members of the party supposedly determined to close the facility, voted for the resolution.

House-Senate negotiators working on the DHS bill later softened that stance, agreeing instead to allow detainees onto U.S. soil to stand trial. This “victory” for the Obama administration is certainly better than an outright prohibition, but it still leaves the question of where, if not at Gitmo, detainees who can’t be released or brought to trial will be put -- and, of course, how Obama can possibly close the base by his looming, self-imposed deadline of next January. And even this compromise has a difficult road ahead. The 88 House Democrats who endorsed a detainee transfer ban will have a hard time voting for these U.S. trials, and the GOP, which has been anything but responsible on this issue, will surely try to take advantage of any Democratic vote it can construe as “soft” on terrorism. Republicans, no doubt, will continue to press for an absolute ban.

All this serves to underline the absurdity of the opposition to detainee transfers, which is either disturbingly cynical or disturbingly uninformed. Detainees aren’t going to escape from Supermax, no matter how many times GOP lawmakers warn of terrorists showing up in your back yard.

In the comments to my last piece on this subject, some insisted that the real problem is that bringing detainees here would give them access to American courts. But the 2008 Boumediene v. Bush Supreme Court ruling already gave them the ability to file habeas petitions in federal court, even from Guantanamo.

It’s time for Congress to stop impeding the president. And, no, the latest “compromise” is not enough. Instead, Congress needs to sit down and start making some tough decisions on, say, creating a legal regime for holding -- in this country -- those detainees who are too dangerous to be released.

By  | October 8, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  
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Comments

Keep Gitmo open. It shows the public we are firm on fighting terrorists. It is a symbol of our determination to persevere. It should never be closed.

Posted by: ravitchn | October 8, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

How many Supermax prisons are there across the country? It seems to me that the Gitmo prisoners could be spread out thin enough and secretly enough to avoid escaped prisoners. It seems to me that the "law and order" party has become the party of fear. Whatever happened to respecting our Founding Fathers principles?

Posted by: thomthom | October 8, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

another possible obama carter moment, giving gitmo back to the cubans...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 8, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It is utterly amazing how @n@l people are about housing Gitmo detainees in US prisons, when we have rapist, child predators, murderers, and all manner of vile humans being freed from prisons, daily. These detainees will probably be held longer the Charles Manson, who is never expected to be released in our lifetime.


Posted by: demtse | October 8, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Dwight, what's being talked about is closing the Gitmo "terrorist" detention facility. But you still beg the question... do we really need Gitmo in a postColdWar world? If so, why?

Posted by: thomthom | October 8, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

It is utterly amazing how @n@l people are about housing Gitmo detainees in US prisons, when we have rapist, child predators, murderers, and all manner of vile humans being freed from prisons, daily. These detainees will probably be held longer the Charles Manson, who is never expected to be released in our lifetime.

Posted by: demtse | October 8, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Why does it matter if we detain untried prisoners in the US instead of detaining them in Gitmo?

Does the writer really think the former in more "just" and "moral" than the latter?

Posted by: bobmoses | October 8, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

If this were still the United States of America, we would be faced with a simple choice: charge these detainees with crimes, or let them go. But today we are a nation of gutless cowards. We're so scared of these detainees that we are willing to disavow every ideal of freedom which we once held precious -- freedoms which our parents and grandparents died to defend. There is NOTHING more fundamental in our justice system than the right to a fair trial. Even for those who are accused of acts of terrorism.

Posted by: jerkhoff | October 8, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Manson isn't expected to be released in his own lifetime, let alone anyone else's. But at least he had a trial, probably a fair one.
Legislation providing for those too dangerous to be tried or released still involves lettres de cachet, one of those ancien regime institutions that were so supposed to be so utterly abhorrent, unthinkable I tell you, to American and French revolutionaries. Rights imprescriptible! Absolute ethics!

Posted by: MHughes976 | October 8, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The Party of No doesn't want a solution to this problem. They prefer instead to keep their hapless supporters believing that we are incapable of housing Gitmo inmates in the US. It's a security issue! Perhaps Oxy Limbo, leader of the party, can even link this to the question of making sure illegal immigrants don't get health care? I mean, after all those "harsh interrogation techniques" these people probably need a lot of painkillers?

Posted by: gposner | October 8, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Detainees aren’t going to escape from Supermax, no matter how many times GOP lawmakers warn of terrorists showing up in your back yard."

*********************************************

The guys in upstate New York who planned to blow up a synagogue, then shoot down a plane, converted to Islam and were radicalized in prison.

That's something liberal hacks like Stromberg and some posters here try to ignore.

Posted by: Jeff08 | October 8, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Splineless is closing a viable facility to win the love of those who would destroy you .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | October 8, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Always Remember "The Peacekeepers" 241 Marines KIA on Oct.23,1983 in Beirut,Lebanon whilr they slept by an IRAN backed Hezbollah JIHADIST.

Trial: one lawyer,one question,One Camera, One answer, Question: Are you a JIHADIST?

Those that answer YES MARTYR them all and then fill Gitmo up with more JIHADIST!!

Those that answer No put on a plane to make more room in GITMO.

We are at WAR, LIKE IT OR NOT

Posted by: 79USMC83 | October 8, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Splineless is closing a viable facility to win the love of those who would destroy you .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | October 8, 2009 4:27 PM

NOOOOOOOOOOO-spineless is calling people caught up in tribal rivalries, "the worst of the worst". Then sending them 10,000 miles away only to discover that less than 10 percent had ANY connection to terrorist activity.
Spineless is trying to scare Americans about those to be detained here; if there is ONE thing we lead the world in it's the number of people we incarcerate, and the lack of any escapes from maximum security facilities.
Spineless is proclaiming we are a nation of laws, and then acting as though trying these detainees in American courts would somehow subvert the very justice and freedoms we spend so much blather TALKING about.
Spineless is watching Republicans try to play the BE VERY AFRAID OF Al-Qaeda in your backyard game.
Spineless is torturing people to obtain confessions, and then lamenting that such "evidence" isn't permissible in court.
Spineless is being afraid to conduct open trials after thumping your chest and talking about how perfect OUR system of justice is. Because losing might prove embarrassing? Because we might have to admit that we've held some who are innocent for 7 years without any end in sight?

The blare of the psuedo tough and phony patriots aside, Gitmo is an disgrace, and it has been from day one. An Administration bent on revenge and lawless behavior took advantage of a shocked citizenry and supine Congress to create something out of Stalin's Russia--and all the while proclaiming adherence to American "values". Remove the stain....

Posted by: bklyndan22 | October 8, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Leaving GITMO open says two things:

1. We are a nation of cowards. It does not impress anyone that we are so wimpy that we cannot detain people on our own territory. It's always the Republicans that exhibit this quality the most.

2. That we still hold international law and human rights in contempt. No matter how much you hate criminals of any type, there is no special crime that entitles one to lose their human rights. Two wrongs do not make a right - which is a universal understanding among intelligent human beings.

Since the detainees already have access to the federal court system, and the argument that we'd have to let these foreigners loose in America if they are acquitted proven to be a lie, there is no valid argument for keeping the Guatanamo detention facility open.

Posted by: stoplying | October 8, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The Runt Bush and his CIA/Mossad/FBI/NeoCon/GOP/Jew Media/Military/NRA Kabal decided that Guantanamo was not American Territory and thus the Prisoners were exempt from the usual Constitutional Rights. A stretch of Cosmic proportion!!

If the prisoners are brought to the US, the Kabal will have a hard time denying the POWs and Terrorists open trials and some of the real Terrorists have some secrets that the Kabal will find embarrassing.

The President ought to be ashamed of himself for confirming Indefinite (Lifetime) Detention.

The British, with the collusion of the US held Rudolph Hess incommunicado for the rest of his life and his Memoir and writings were destroyed (like the Bush Family Friend John Hinckley) because of things he knew about Hitler's plan for the Jews and some of the many treasons of certain Americans and British before and during the War.

Monte Haun mchaun@hotmail.com

Posted by: mchaun | October 8, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

On my home from work today, I heard a report on the radio stating that we are no longer capturing detainees on the battlefield, we are killing them instead of capturing them.
The example given was a recent operation in Somalia. THIS is the reason no American will EVER get any spine on Gitmo: our crimes are simply too massive, involve too many people, and we are NOT a country that assumes any responsibility for our own criminal behaviour.
Many countries will not accept our detainees because they do not believe in detention without end without trials of any kind, ever.
This will be a stain on our national character for a hundred years.

Posted by: cms1 | October 8, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Supermax?......sounds expensive! Not in this economy!

Posted by: rlmayville | October 8, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I guess the choice is whether to bring more potential criminals into the already-overcrowded US prison system, or secure them at a military base somewhere in the Caribbean. I like the latter.

Posted by: RobertaHigginbotham | October 9, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

It is ironic that in the Declaration of Independence, two items that steamed the 'Colonial terrorists' of their day was the fact that the British government would take people to prisons overseas (rendition) and hold them without charge or trial for as long as they pleased. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

We claim to be a nation of laws, yet we turn our heads to the fact that we are breaking not only our own laws, but international law as well.

Every time I read that there are men in custody that are considered ineligible for trial or release, it sends a shiver down my spine. How can anyone in America condone holding onto any person with no trial, no charges and no release? It's a travesty and it's unacceptable.

At least in the America I thought I lived in it would be...

Posted by: bryangalt1 | October 9, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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