Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moving detainees to Guantánamo bad idea all the way around

Never before in the history of the United States have we ever brought combatants to US soil for trial. It just does not make sense on both sides. President Obama wants to close Guantánamo prison. Yeah. So did Bush. But there lies the problem.

As long as the criminals and war prisoners are held off US soil, the rules remain they can be held as long as we think they are a threat. And, if we release them, we will not release them onto United States ground.

Moving them to a prison here presents problems on both sides.

On the one hand, if they are in US prisons, they will now have more rights, or go to court for more rights, than they have out of the country. A judge could determine whatever rights were deemed warranted by the bench. That's dangerous and that's why they should be kept out of the country. No matter what Obama says, he cannot predict what the courts will do. They are now treated as if they were just common criminals picked up on the streets. Appeals, more appeals, and yet more appeals will make this seem like on big joke.

This is not the way to close Guantánamo prison.

The other side says Obama cannot treat them the same as they do on Cuba. One of Obama's arguments is that he will make sure they are not released in the United States. But he can't. Many lawyers are just waiting to contest that. And don't even think about holding them indefinitely. Once they are on US soil they cannot be held indefinitely. And Obama saying they can and will is surely a sticking point with those who will now argue for these prisoners rights.

Bad ideas on both sides. Moving these detainees from one spot to another does nothing to quiet the critics of Gitmo. A change of scenery does not solve the problem. It's not about closing Gitmo, it's about obliterating the military's job of holding combatants. There are those who do not like the military in any way, shape, or form, and think it is an organization that needs to be subjected to regular rules.

It's not. Period.

Never before in the history of the United States have we ever done anything like this. Never.

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