Re: Yes, We Tortured; Gitmo Must Be Closed, Mr. President.
posted at 5/2/2013 12:09 PM EDT
...the anti-antiterror liberals want to eliminate any distinction between the laws of war and the laws of civilian justice. That includes eliminating executive branch powers to designate people who violate the laws of war as enemy combatants and establish military tribunals, or to hold them as long as hostilities continue.
Mr. Obama indulged that goal as a candidate, but as President he has adopted nearly all of President Bush's laws-of-war paradigm in practice. The reason his Gitmo policy is so confused and disingenuous is that he still wants to appease his left flank rhetorically.
Thus on Tuesday, he declared that after 9/11 "the notion was somehow that we had to create a special facility like Guantanamo and we couldn't handle this in a normal, conventional fashion. I understand that reaction. But we're now over a decade out. We should be wiser. We should have more experience in how we prosecute terrorists."
Except the legal and conceptual justification for his covert global targeted killing campaign—including the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden—is the same one that underlies Guantanamo: The U.S. is engaged in a Congressionally authorized armed conflict against al Qaeda and its franchises. The drones flying over Pakistan and the Horn of Africa certainly aren't doing routine law enforcement.
If Mr. Obama really wants to close Gitmo, he and Congress need to answer some threshold questions. Of the 166 current prisoners, 86 have been cleared for release, most of them to Yemen, yet only six others are moving through the military tribunal process. What does the Administration plan to do with the rest of these men? And where, and under what legal system?
If the plan is to dump them in civilian courts, many will be found innocent under civilian evidentiary standards and they will be released domestically. The Administration might as well set them loose in Rockford without building the new prison. If they are let go in Yemen or elsewhere, many will join the dozens of other former Guantanamo detainees suspected of returning to the fight and killing U.S. soldiers.
Recall the case of the Somali Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, the single terrorist whom U.S. forces have captured under Mr. Obama outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House refused to send him to Gitmo but it did hold him aboard a Navy ship in international waters for a two-month interrogation. Senator Obama might have called that a "secret prison."