It's Time To Shut Down Guantanamo Bay
This is from the must-read February 3rd piece in the National Journal
Some of the men Rumsfeld described -- the terrorists, the trainers, the financiers, and the battlefield captures -- are indeed at Guantanamo. But National Journal's detailed review of government files on 132 prisoners who have asked the courts for help, and a thorough reading of heavily censored transcripts from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals conducted in Guantanamo for 314 prisoners, didn't turn up very many of them. Most of the "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo -- for four years now -- are simply not the worst of the worst of the terrorist world.
Many of them are not accused of hostilities against the United States or its allies. Most, when captured, were innocent of any terrorist activity, were Taliban foot soldiers at worst, and were often far less than that. And some, perhaps many, are guilty only of being foreigners in Afghanistan or Pakistan at the wrong time. And much of the evidence -- even the classified evidence -- gathered by the Defense Department against these men is flimsy, second-, third-, fourth- or 12th-hand. It's based largely on admissions by the detainees themselves or on coerced, or worse, interrogations of their fellow inmates, some of whom have been proved to be liars.
The most telling conclusion of the piece is that fewer than 20 percent of the prisoners in Guantanamo have ever been Al-Quaeda members. The most infuriating is that at least 8 prisoners in Guantanamo have been cleared of any association with Al-Qaeda or of any ill intent against any Americans, yet are still held indefinitely in that pit.
This is a major chink in the larger failures of the Bush Administration in handling the Waronterra. According to Newsweek reporter/analyst Michael Hirsh Al-Quaeda really was a perigrinous organization that could only function centrally in the newly-created extremist Islamist state in Afghanistan. No other country could tolerate its presence. It was also fractious with its only "A team" being Al-Zawahiri's group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad with Mohammed Atta the lead foot soldier/psychopath. Al-Zawahiri wanted Egypt to be the main target, but Bin Laden made America the target, for ideological reasons to be sure, but also for functional reasons. Recalling the glory days when jihadis united together to fight, and later defeat, the Soviet infidels in Afghanistan during the eighties, he gambled on the idea that an unfavorable American military response towards the group would be offset by the galvanizing and unifying force such a response would be for militant Islamists everywhere.
At first, Bin Laden's dices came up as snake-eyes. Virtually nobody, not the liberals at home or the Islamic states abroad opposed Bush's invasion of Afghanistan. [Full disclosure, the invasion made me sick when it happened because I hated the fact that innocent people will be bombarded and invaded because a bunch of terrorists lived among them. I still hate the idea today, now because it's clear that the Afghan war is marked by astonishing incompetence and the existence of Guantanamo Bay-Kabul or Bagram Prison]
But Bush abused the new realities to exercise his desires to be a warrior king who answers to no one. First was the use of the military base in Guantanamo Bay to let the terrorists (and the unfortunate soldiers who were defending against an invasion, and those unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time) to rot or be tortured. That is clearly not a feature of a Jeffersonian democracy that purports to follow the code of justice, and many of our allies let that be known in no quiet manner. For those not our allies, it served as a rallying point justifying the image of the U.S. as an out of control agressor out to get Muslims. With the disclosures of the National Journal articles, a random American would be at a loss to explain how their country has NOT abandoned it's commitment to universal human justice.
Iraq is going to be the Waterloo not for this administration, but for the rest of the country as well, for how many decades no one knows. It has spawned a Palestinian Authority made up of terrorists, a Lebanese Parliament with a large percentage of Hezbollah partisans who undoubtedly are involved in the country approving the transfer of arms to the self-same terrorist group. The Bushies have overseen the election of the extremist Ahmednenijad in Iran and the country's brazen attempt to develop nuclear weapons, and even in their pet project in Eye-Rack has to contend with a government made up of Islamists who like to see our soldiers killed. Clearly the Iraq war was a mistake, purposeful on the part of the neocon fuckupswho dreamed it up in the first place, nearsighted on the part of those who actually believed (LOL!) that this is going to be a cakewalk, the Iraqis will be grateful, and that there won't be a power vacuum for opportunistic parties to exploit. Perhaps the selling of our ports to the Emirates will be the final straw, because if Bush doesn't have his credibility as the superhero ready to crush the terrorist boogieman, he has nothing.
But the existence of Guantanamo Bay is at best rank laziness on the part of the administration who don't want to deal with the machinery of justice. It is simply a giant middle finger to all that we stood for. If we are to regain a fraction of the prestige and our reputation in the rest of the world, that place, and others like it, must be shut down.