The Enduring Problem of GITMO

 

imageWriting in the Washington Examiner, Byron York suggests that the prosecution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is likely to rekindle debate over the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. President Obama is apparently embarrassed that he has not been able to close the prison as promised six years ago and — given his penchant for taking questionable executive action over congressional objections — it’s reasonable to expect him to do something about it in the next few years. There’s no way that ends well.

But while it’d be best for Obama not to get his way on this matter, GITMO’s use as a detention facility — and the political maneuvering around it — should not continue past the next presidents’ term. The prison’s location was clearly chosen less for its geographic advantages — members are welcome to correct me if I’ve missed something, but Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia has long struck me as a superior location in almost every regard that way — than for its unique political situation, being situated on the only spot on earth from which the United States military cannot be evicted that is also not subject to US civilian law. It’s humiliating for the United States military to feel it has to hide its prisoners from civilian courts (though I leave it to readers to decide on their own whether this speaks worse about our military or our courts). Comparisons to a gulag are offensive on many levels, but that’s hardly an endorsement of the situation.

Adding to the circus has been our nation’s inability to prosecute the prisoners, even under the relatively easy standards of evidence and proof afforded by the military tribunals set-up nearly a decade ago. Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s military trial is yet to even start. Unless something changes the situation — which, again, I doubt will be a good thing under President Obama — it’s likely that his detention will span at least three presidencies without resolution.

That’s more than long enough. There is no good reason to hold these prisoners indefinitely: whatever intelligence value they had has long since expired, and most people — self included — argue that it would be wrong to exchange them for American hostages, be they deserters like Sgt. Bergdahl or modern-day Sgt. Yorks. If the remaining prisoners truly are “the worst of the worst” then figuring out how to safely detain, morally interrogate, legally try, and humanely execute those found guilty should be well within our ability, certainly after all this time.

The Republican candidates for president should get in front of the issue so that we can better put it behind us and — hopefully — stop the president from making the matter any worse than it already is. Among their policy proposals, each should present a plan for dealing with the remaining detainees swiftly and figuring out how to deal with any future ones in a way that doesn’t cause a decade-long political fracas both at home and abroad.

Published in Foreign Policy, Politics
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  1. Raw Prawn Member
    Raw Prawn
    @RawPrawn

    Kate Braestrup: 

    The mob, and the bad guys, are so powerful, they can derail American jurisprudence. And anything that gives terrorists a pretext for further acts of terrorism should be avoided. Like, say, indefinite imprisonment of terrorist suspects without trial…

    It really only takes a liberal activist judge to derail American jurisprudence, and the mob and the bad guys are always trying.

    While islamic terrorists are never at a loss for a pretext (they can always fall back on the Crusades), it’s probably a good idea not to supply them with any fresh ones. They cannot demand the return of the dead. They are likely to murder someone in reprisal but they were going to murder anyway. We should not worry about provoking them; they are already doing their worst, and weakness is the greatest provocation.

    • #91
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    We should not worry about provoking them; they are already doing their worst, and weakness is the greatest provocation.

    I agree. I  just disagree about what constitutes—and looks provocatively like—weakness.

    • #92
  3. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Instugator:

    Kate Braestrup:

    I think water boarding is torture. I would consider it torture if it was done to an American. But we can agree to disagree on that one.

    Kate – Waterboarding is the torture so safe it is done by the US on our own troops to give them the feeling of what it would be like to be tortured. (so it is done on Americans, regularly)

    Like I said on a different thread, waterboarding is so safe, untrained lefties can do it on each other in front of a congressman’s office and not get hurt. Heck they weren’t even arrested. Check out all the times it was done in public without a single arrest – from TIME Magazine.

    If you can do it as a protest, and not be arrested, then it isn’t torture. QED

    Kate Braestrup:Then why does it work?

    Oho! See how conversation exposes the logical faults? Just when I despair, I see there’s good in Ricochet after all.

    Kate, your response implies that your understanding of “torture” is “that which compels.” Is that really what you think?

    • #93
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Kate, your response implies that your understanding of “torture” is “that which compels.” Is that really what you think?

    Nope. My understanding of torture is the deliberate inflicting of unbearable pain, or causing the fear of imminent death—and in this context, that means doing so in a manner inconsistent with what I would want to have inflicted on an American.

    • #94
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Kate Braestrup:

    Kate, your response implies that your understanding of “torture” is “that which compels.” Is that really what you think?

    Nope. My understanding of torture is the deliberate inflicting of unbearable pain, or causing the fear of imminent death—and in this context, that means doing so in a manner inconsistent with what I would want to have inflicted on an American.

    That’s an argument against all war. I don’t see how it can be applied to torture and not to the battlefield.

    • #95
  6. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Kate Braestrup:

    Kate, your response implies that your understanding of “torture” is “that which compels.” Is that really what you think?

    Nope. My understanding of torture is the deliberate inflicting of unbearable pain, or causing the fear of imminent death—and in this context, that means doing so in a manner inconsistent with what I would want to have inflicted on an American.

    I could almost go with this definition – except for the causing fear part. In my view torture is the deliberate infliction of physical harm that leaves permanent disfigurement. What Allan West did was not torture. What was done to John McCain was. Your definition would apply to any person with claustrophobia being placed in a supermax facility.

    My only problem is that I also support caning as a consequence for criminal behavior (since caning leaves permanent disfigurement). I make no effort to reconcile these views – I don’t support torture, and I support caning – therefore my definition of torture requires additional thought that I am not willing to perform.

    • #96
  7. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Instugator:

    Kate Braestrup:

    Kate, your response implies that your understanding of “torture” is “that which compels.” Is that really what you think?

    Nope. My understanding of torture is the deliberate inflicting of unbearable pain, or causing the fear of imminent death—and in this context, that means doing so in a manner inconsistent with what I would want to have inflicted on an American.

    I could almost go with this definition – except for the causing fear part. In my view torture is the deliberate infliction of physical harm that leaves permanent disfigurement. What Allan West did was not torture. What was done to John McCain was. Your definition would apply to any person with claustrophobia being placed in a supermax facility.

    My only problem is that I also support caning as a consequence for criminal behavior (since caning leaves permanent disfigurement). I make no effort to reconcile these views – I don’t support torture, and I support caning – therefore my definition of torture requires additional thought that I am not willing to perform.

    I suggest that both you and Kate sacrifice clarity to your quest, quixotic I think, for a definition of torture to which you may apply a blanket opposition.

    • #97
  8. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Barfly:

    I suggest that both you and Kate sacrifice clarity to your quest, quixotic I think, for a definition of torture to which you may apply a blanket opposition.

    I don’t think I have sacrificed clarity – I am kind of clear on this, waterboarding isn’t torture.

    • #98
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Instugator:

    Barfly:

    I suggest that both you and Kate sacrifice clarity to your quest, quixotic I think, for a definition of torture to which you may apply a blanket opposition.

    I don’t think I have sacrificed clarity – I am kind of clear on this, waterboarding isn’t torture.

    Uh huh. Look, it’s no wonder you make no effort to reconcile this

    In my view torture is the deliberate infliction of physical harm that leaves permanent disfigurement.

    with this

    My only problem is that I also support caning as a consequence for criminal behavior (since caning leaves permanent disfigurement). 

    It is a simple fact of logic that the two cannot be reconciled as long as one maintains a blanket position of opposition to torture. Your position is confused, lying outside logic as it does, and can never be made clear.

    • #99
  10. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Barfly:

    Instugator:

    Barfly:

    I suggest that both you and Kate sacrifice clarity to your quest, quixotic I think, for a definition of torture to which you may apply a blanket opposition.

    I don’t think I have sacrificed clarity – I am kind of clear on this, waterboarding isn’t torture.

    Uh huh. Look, it’s no wonder you make no effort to reconcile this

    with this

    It is a simple fact of logic that the two cannot be reconciled as long as one maintains a blanket position of opposition to torture. Your position is confused, lying outside logic as it does, and can never be made clear.

    Which I why I make no effort to reconcile the two – I support caning (as opposed to mere incarceration).

    • #100
  11. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    KB #94 “… or causing the fear of immenent death.”

    By that definition, combat is torture. ?Do you mean that.

    • #101
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