US President Barack Obama today signed the order that will see the demise of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center within one year.
It’s an order that should never have needed to be signed; a relic of the Bush administration’s policies of torture and imprisonment without trial, once only the political playthings of South American banana republics and Third World African dictators.
The practicalities of closing Guantanamo are legion. 243 detainees need to go somewhere, and for many, their countries of origin are known human rights abusers. No charges have been leveled at the majority of these prisoners; no court of law has found them guilty of any crime.
A small group – less than twenty – are considered “too dangerous for release”, yet they cannot be tried in federal courts because…….well, according to NBC Nightly News tonight, “evidence against them cannot be revealed because it remains top secret.”
Apparently, the truth had to be distorted slightly as the sensitivities of anchor, Brian Williams, weren’t up to telling the complete story.
According to President Obama, “We cannot try these people because of various problems related to evidence.”
That’s somewhat more accurate than NBC’s blatant misinformation, though still intentionally vague.
The truth is clear cut. Confessions from these prisoners – including Khalil Sheik Mohammed – were obtained under torture. Khalil Sheik Mohammed “confessed” to over thirty terrorist plots against the US, though truly, who’s to say he was involved in any of them?
The Bush administration wanted this man pilloried for the 9/11 attacks. Their inability – or, was it reluctance? – to apprehend Osama bin Laden, meant a substitute was required. Khalil Sheik Mohammed fitted the bill perfectly, and would have been happy to oblige the US by dying on a gurney, a martyr, in front of the world’s press.
It’s now unlikely he, or any of the other ‘dangerous prisoners’, will die of anything other than old age. Until then, their most likely resting place will be a US military prison – Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or the Charleston Naval Brig in South Carolina.
Unless, that is, certain Republican members of Congress get their way; among them, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, who’s quite certain he knows of no-one in California, Kansas, or South Carolina, who would want any of these terrorists, “….living down the street.”
Obviously, Senator Bond and the American people have even less faith in US security, than have I.
For all of President Obama’s good intentions, it would seem the US is to continue its policy of imprisonment without trial, at least, so far as these ‘dangerous’ detainees are concerned. What a terrible indictment of a superpower, that its judicial system can be permanently hog-tied by a corrupt administration; one that, through its actions, has placed an impossible burden on its successors.
There may well be around twenty detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are too dangerous to release, but both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the US Bill of Rights grant the right of trial by jury, and forbid punishment without due process of law, plus other rights accepted, not just in the United States, but in most ‘civilized’ nations.
George W Bush and his administration chose to ignore the Bill of Rights, stating detainees were ‘foreign combatants’, and not covered by the law. Neither were they prisoners of war, so, conveniently, the Geneva Conventions didn’t protect them, either.
In other words, they had no rights or protection whatever. They could be used, abused, tortured, and beaten without recourse to any law.
It was a mark of the man, that George W Bush could command an administration so cold-bloodedly cruel that it ranked with the perpetrators of 9/11. Its aftermath requires President Obama to continue a policy surely abhorrent to him. He must authorize the internment of a group of individuals, for the rest of their lives, without trial.
Would justice not be mollified, at least to some degree, if George W Bush, and the other political perpetrators of this obscene judicial mess, kept company with Khalil Sheik Mohammed and his companions during their lifetime sojourn in a United States military prison?
Filed under: Crimes against America