Thursday, May 23, 2013

Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

I don't remember who that quote is attributed to (I could look it up - this IS the Internet - but it doesn't really matter - if the shoe fits...)

I am referring to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who made a statement today likening Obama's statement on Gitmo and drones as a victory for Al Qaeda (as if they are still active enough for it to matter):
The President’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory. Rather than continuing successful counterterrorism activities, we are changing course with no clear operational benefit. We knew five years ago that closing Guantanamo was a bad idea and would not work. Yet, today’s speech sends the message to Guantanamo detainees that if they harass the dedicated military personnel there enough, we will give in and send them home, even to Yemen. With the recidivism rate now at 28% and the increased threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates, including in Yemen, GITMO must stay open for business.
 This is a deliberate ignorance of the primary value Gitmo has to muslim terrorists all over the world (not just AQ), which is as a recruitment vehicle.

This is bad.  Not because we are moving towards closing Gitmo, but because it has remained in operation for so long!

There are two reasons:

First, it is just plain wrong.  Gitmo was opened in the first place on the premise that the Constitution applies only within the Continental United States - that the Government can violate that document the Republicans supposedly hold sacred with impunity IF it does so either outside the borders or against a foreign national.  There are no such limitations on the Constitution's safeguards.

The Constitution is a document which outlines the powers allowed the government, and those powers are not allowed to expand beyond those safeguards if it is acting overseas.  They remain the basic law governing how the government may act - ANYWHERE, and in regards to ANYONE.  It does not say, "King's X, only within US borders and this is only protection for citizens".  Its language is generic in regards to whom those protections apply, and are absolute as to wherever the government may be acting.

These are foundational principles we have based our government on - that it may NOT hold people without trial indefinitely.  Even international law limits such imprisonment.  Violation of those principles not only lowers our actions to the level of our enemies', but gives them the perfect excuse to charge us - with good reason - with that violation.  It places us in the very awkward position of being blazing hypocrites!

Second, because it has placed the government in a position where it may be difficult to successfully prosecute those prisoners because of the illegal manner in which they were imprisoned and interrogated, forever tainting the evidence - "poisoned fruit" in legal parlance.

This does NOT represent "successful counterterrorism activities", it represents a very egregious violation of the law - probably several, including international law, I would imagine.

To top it off, many of those men are now known to have been completely innocent of any crimes against the United States when they were detained and transferred to Gitmo.  Something like half, if not more, in fact.

The Senator ignores that his government has illegally held dozens, if not over a hundred perfectly innocent men in indefinite detention, still without charges and without a firm release date or trial date FOR YEARS!!

What part of violating their human rights does this Senator not understand?  How does this man not understand that this places us firmly into the same camp along side such human rights violating luminaries as the USSR, China, North Korea and yes, (Godwin alert) Nazi Germany.  Oh, there may be a matter of a difference in scale, but the principle has been trampled and ignored as completely and as blatantly as if there were no difference at all.

Hence the usage of Gitmo as a tremendously valuable recruitment tool for terrorists the world over, not just AQ.

President Obama promised in his first election campaign to close Gitmo.

It is beyond time to make good that promise.

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