Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guantanamo Bay

**Selected as a recommended diary on**

September 11, 2001. This was the date that the Bush Administration decided it could foment it's own set of Enabling Acts and circumvent the Constitution to gain unprecedented power. All they had to do was whip up enough fear amongst the populace so we wouldn't question the profound loss of the principles we theoretically stood for.

Unfortunately for us, most of these policies and practices have been counter-productive, weakened our national security and have led to feverish recruitment and support for our enemies. The practice of locating detainees in a geographical grey area, labeling said detainees with an equally ambiguous title, and conducting torture.....have knocked us off of whatever moral high ground we may have been on up to 11 September.

Sadly, proponents of said undemocratic practices label this debate in terms of left/right, Republican/Democrat. They do this because they cannot argue the merits in terms of morality and constitutionality.

Claims of legality for the basis of Gitmo itself due to being 'at war' fall equally flat, as we're not legally 'at war' with anyone. The methodology of deciding who earned residency at Gitmo was sloppy at best; the Bush Administration stated emphatically that these 'terrorists' were 'very hard cases' and the 'worst of the worst'; yet has released over 500 since Camp Delta opened. The fact that many came to us via rival and destitute Afghani warlords and the Pakistani military speaks volumes towards the efficacy of our entire policy.

Guantanamo is more than just a geographic location, it is a state of mind; one where we tell the world that we're not going to abide by the principles we preach; one where we state manifestly, that our system is shallow, corrupt and imperial.

This is the crux of the problem with the concept of a 'War on [insert vague and undefined tactic here]'. We are at war......except we're not. The Bush Administration decided, with it's version of Enabling Acts, that it could use a terrorist attack to justify creating new and unregulated areas of jurisprudence and wholesale widening of Federal powers. One wonders how long it takes for the current opposition party to rail against such similar executive mandates.

Ironically, proponents of such polices wish to define the detainees at POW's when it suits them and then deny that status to detainees when pressed on the treatment of them.

Not to mention that our policy of torture and indefinite imprisonment.....and.....the mere symbol of Guantanamo Bay, has led to a recruitment boon for our enemies. The hypocritical facet of the 'support the troops' crowd is strangely silent when the fact arises that this further endangers our forces in theater.

It's quite sad that the very people who beat their chest and bleat to the heavens of how much they support the every policy that is counter-productive to not only the welfare of our armed forces, but additionally violate the tenets of every creed in the services; and do so in the name of their political persuasion......believing somehow, that only liberals are opposing this grand imperialism that we have practiced [in full measure] for the last eight years.

Gitmo has been a recruitment boon to our enemy; has violated every principle we claim to uphold; and has brought us down to par with our enemies.....and we wonder why our standing amongst democracies is in the basement?

There's debating on emotion and there's debating on fact. Those who are willfully blind to fact have no other recourse than the shallow vacuous diatribes of bloviating and party meme's.

The bipartisan and respected Center for Strategic and International Studies recently published the results of a working group that studied the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, and the pro's and con's of closing it.

From the CSIS report titled: Closing Guantanamo; From Bumper Sticker to Blueprint.......published prior to the outcome of the Presidential election.

Regarding Gitmo in general:

The final element of the new policy would be to prosecute them through the US criminal justice system. The record of the criminal justice system concerning the prosecution of international terrorism cases far outshines that of the Guantanamo military commissions: since 2001, 145 conviction versus 2 conviction. Overall, this straightforward policy can help restore our reputation as a country that is built on and embraces the rule of law.

Restoring the US reputation will have national security benefits. The working group concluded that the United States has been damaged by Guantanamo beyond any immediate security benefits. Our enemies have achieved a propaganda windfall that enables recruitment to violence, while our friends have found it more difficult to cooperate with us.

In the view of many around the world, Guantanamo represents indefinite detention, torture and abuse. Its continued existence is a potent recruiting tool for our enemies and discourages cooperation with our friends. No amount of tinkering - even substantial changes - would fix this problem. Guantanamo does serve as a recruitment tool for al Qaeda. It has cost the United States leverage in many policy realms.

Regarding intelligence:

Finally we addressed detention as it relates to intelligence collection and the related value of holding someone over the long term. Our working group meetings with retired intelligence and military officers suggested to us, however, that at this point those detained at Guantanamo provide neither substantial strategic nor tactical intelligence value. These officers were unanimous in the view that any value that might have been gleaned was non-existent six years into detention.

It justly concludes:

Never again, if our country is attacked, should we frantically engage in techniques that our enemies have used against our uniformed service members in times of war. We are better than that. We can do better than that. We must be prepared to do better than that.

What's sad is that given our past national stance against torture, and given the historical and academic fact that torture is not effective, many simply see the actions of our enemy and so easily discard any shred of moral fiber that separates us from them. True patriots do not mitigate ideals and principles based on anger at the actions of another. When the actions of our government are detrimental and counter-productive to the safety of our nation and her citizens, that constitutes incompetence if not outright treason.

The public at large won't care....they're too stupid to care. The President of these United States emphatically stated that 'we don't torture' and was subsequently contradicted by numerous members of his own administration and military......and yet we have loyal myrmidons willingly and energetically supporting such acts that are treasonous to the ideals this nation is supposed to stand for.

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