Terrorism

Terrorists in the 'Hood

The truth about Obama's decision to close Guantanamo

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Here's the Obama administration's plan for emptying out Guantanamo, as I understand it: Take each prisoner out of his cell. Give him a personal apology, a big kiss, and an AK-47. Then hand him a free airline ticket good for any destination in the continental United States.

Maybe I've got one or two details wrong, but I'm having trouble thinking clearly right now. That's because I've been listening to politicians who have responded to the news of Gitmo's pending closure with disconcerting shrieks of panic.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was beside himself upon hearing Defense Secretary Robert Gates tell a Senate committee that the Pentagon might need to transfer 100 inmates to American soil. "The administration," announced McConnell, "needs to tell the American people how it will keep the terrorists at Guantanamo out of our neighborhoods and off of the battlefield."

How on earth could that be done? Hmmm. Maybe by locking them up in grim buildings replete with iron bars and concertina wire. Same way, in other words, it kept accused terrorists Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri out of our neighborhoods and off the battlefield.

They were confined in a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. That city has had the occasional murder, but none of them was committed by agents of Osama bin Laden. I'm willing to wager a week's salary that if some Gitmo alumni end up there, they will have zero effect on the crime rate.

But none of this is going to keep Republicans from opposing the relocation of the prisoners to the United States. They are advised that the issue will help them with voters, who don't want to have to worry about cutting off Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in traffic.

"This issue is at the intersection of good policy and good politics," Republican pollster Glen Bolger explained to Politico. "All in favor of having Gitmo terrorists housed in your congressional district, raise your hand. Whoa—no hands go up!"

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), in the party's weekly radio address Saturday, raised the possibility the detainees might be coming to "a halfway house in Missouri." To head off such threats, Republicans have introduced "The Keep Terrorists Out of America Act"—which would forbid the president from moving the inmates to any state without first getting approval from the governor and the legislature.

It seems like only yesterday conservatives were intent on upholding the powers of the commander-in-chief against encroachment by 535 armchair generals. I'm trying to imagine the reaction if, after the 9/11 attack, Democrats had proposed legislation requiring the president to get a state's consent to send its National Guard troops to Iraq.

But some people can't be bothered with consistency when the stakes are so high. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), is apoplectic at the possibility some of the captives might be migrating to Ft. Leavenworth, in his state. This option, he lamented, would mean locals would have to "share their community … with terrorists."

Not only that, he said, but it would make their town a target for terrorists the world over. "Moving such a facility to hometown, USA will require security beyond reality," said Roberts.

From listening to Roberts, you might think he's going to be running into them at Home Depot. I don't have inside information, but I'm guessing the inmates would be bunking not at the Super 8 but at the maximum-security prison located at Ft. Leavenworth.

As for his worries about attracting terrorists, here is the interesting thing about Ft. Leavenworth: It's a U.S. Army base. With some effort, I can imagine a squad of al-Qaida operatives being able to enter the country, obtain weaponry, and seize a vulnerable detention facility. But attack a military installation crawling with soldiers in hopes of springing their buddies? I suspect that would play out like the ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Terrorists coming soon to my neighborhood? Thanks for the warning. I'll pass it on to Ted Kaczynski when I see him at the gym.

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  1. Well, this is what happens when you pretend POWs are part of the prison population.

  2. out of our neighborhoods and off of the battlefield…

    …and off our unemployment rolls and out of our theaters
    and especially not where the white women are at.

  3. I want Mitch McConnell to provide me a personal guarantee that all human beings not currently in detention at Guantanamo – all 6 billion of them – will never commit any crime or any act of terrorism against me or against any other American.

    Until he can do that he should shut the fuck up.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Gitmo originally created as a means of getting around the tradition of the Constitution following the US flag? I don’t agree with the idea, but the logic of those that do in not wanting to move prisoners to the US is sound if that was Gitmo’s purpose. None the less it was a bad idea with little or no forethought.

    Now we have a knee jerk self proclaimed big thinker/big actor in the executive office who is doing things with little to no forethought. Hell the whole administration so far seems like hell bent Marines on a weekend pass. Consequences be damned this party is going on.

  5. I’m referring to GTMO historically, long before the war on terror and a short time after the Spanish-American war.

  6. There’s several reasons why Gitmo is an ideal place for holding enemy combatants.

    1) It’s nearly impossible for insiders to break out, and for outsiders to break in. We have Fidel Castro guarding the buffer zone for us. Chapman ignores the issue of terrorist organizations attempting a jailbreak, but these things have been known to happen.

    2) Gitmo was designed for these particular detainees. They’ve been given religious and cultural accomodations that they could never get in a US prison. They have Pashto copies of Harry Potter!

    Provided that we’re holding people who actually are enemy combatants, and they’re treated humanely, there’s no good reason to hold them in a federal pokie in the US.

  7. I have a cunning plan.

    Why don’t we free all of them and tell each that the one who brings us the head of bin Laden will get $100 million?

    The innocent will attempt to go back to their lives, not being terrorists and not having any access to bin Laden.

    The guilty who are willing to be bribed will go back and maybe actually get the head.

    The guilty who are too fanatically loyal will go back and tell bin Laden about the bribe, who will thereafter not trust and probably kill all of the former Guantanamo prisoners.

    Except for the possibility that bin Laden is already dead, I see no flaw in this plan.

  8. Why don’t we just open the gates and let Cuba deal with them. I mean, Cuba is the liberal paradise, so Cuba should have plenty of resources to handle them.

  9. Provided that we’re holding people who actually are enemy combatants, and they’re treated humanely, there’s no good reason to hold them in a federal pokie in the US.

    Cost? Ability to determine if they’re being held humanely?

    I’m all for closing all overseas military bases ASAP, regardless of their “other” uses, if only to reduce the cost on the US citizen. As for Guantanamo in particular, the last administration led the worst PR campaign concerning its use and basically led dems to believe it was being used for only the most nefarious of purposes to hold people who were of questionable guilt in some cases. It tainted the whole idea of the base’s existence and the dems screamed out that it must be closed. The GOP would have been smarter to keep its goddamned mouth shut when Obama announced its closing, but as we all know, the GOP Titanic is sinking beneath their own radical conservative base, gaining speed as they head full steam to the bottom of the ocean, hoping the rising bubbles of indignation against the administration will force them back up.

  10. I like Pro Lib’s idea, but to combine it with ed’s comment, can we offer them less than $100 million? Like maybe… 40 acres and a mule?

  11. I don’t condone detaining people the way it’s being done in GTMO. Hell if they are that bad let them go and take care of their ass on the battle field. Make sure our forces carry a can of bacon on every patrol to ensure the assholes we let go get a final meal. If you’re going to fight a war you might as well make sure they aren’t dying for virgins or some great afterlife. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. Bacon for everyone.

    If we weren’t nation building none of this would have happened. Kill the people that need killing and go home. If they want to be free let them fight for it. Not my fucking problem.

  12. OMG! Why are so many of these republicans so dumb? Do they not grasp the simple fact that these people are suspects? They aren’t terrorists until they have been proven guilty with evidence to charge them in a court of law and jury trial. For god sake the sheer stupidity of some people in the USA really makes the rest of the western world shudder and cringe!!!! A child has more grasp of common law than these incredibly repugnant republicans. Maybe reading the bill of rights should be made compulsary before you are allowed to take office?

  13. A child has more grasp of common law than these incredibly repugnant republicans.

    Well thank FSM the right people are in charge now! High five!

  14. Maybe reading the bill of rights should be made compulsary before you are allowed to take office?

    Gosh, it’s grand that you’ve realized that they’re all citizens, with all that entails.

  15. Pro lib:

    The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Usama Bin Laden. An additional $2 million is being offered through a program developed and funded by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.

    $27 million is not $100 million, but I’d like to think that it’s a signifcant incentive.

  16. There needs to be a party wide gag order on the Republican party. The Democrats need the same, but since they are in power their stupidity helps to ensure a less functioning legislature come next election. God it’s sad when that is the upside of the situation.

  17. Abdul,

    My approach is more focused. Besides, these guys are probably more amenable to money + freedom.

    MNG,

    Even I, who object to the lack of appropriate due process with these people, don’t think they’re merely criminal suspects. We need some kind of due process, but we don’t need U.S. criminal justice system. Note that we don’t do that for traditional POWs.

  18. It’s a stupid argument, but it’s apparently a stupid argument with a lot of backing. Note that Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to bar transferring any of the prisoners to the United States.

    So while focusing on risk to communities is stupid, I think it’s a real stretch for people here to claim that it’s some sort of radical and unpopular idea. It seems to be a quite popular stupid idea.

    In any case, let’s look at Steve Chapman’s equally repugnant to civil liberties idea:

    I’m guessing the inmates would be bunking not at the Super 8 but at the maximum-security prison located at Ft. Leavenworth.

    First, holding these suspects in a Supermax prison that’s normally used for convicted prisoners has its own civil liberties concerns, no? That’s not a place that we normally hold POWs. Second, Ft. Leavenworth is without a doubt much worse conditions than Gitmo. Third, I’m completely convinced that the ordinary treatment meted out to prisoners at Supermax prisons is torture, and I’m pretty sure that it’s worse than all the “enhanced techniques” in the infamous memos up to and possibly including waterboarding. (At least as described in memos, though obviously people could have gone beyond those memos.) The treatment there is absolutely horrendous, but no one cares. Fourth, I think it may actually be illegal under the Geneva Conventions to hold them in the regular justice system– unless of course you’re agreeing that they are illegal combatants that don’t get normal Geneva protections.

    So excuse me if I’m not persuaded by Chapman pointing out that we can close Gitmo but “solve” the problem by treating the prisoners even worse inside the United States. What’s the point of closing Gitmo if you’re just going to torture them worse and ignore civil liberties as much? It’s useless rhetoric.

  19. Dollars are useless in a barter economy. Why in the fuck would goat herder bob care about 27 million dollars. He’s happy herding goats, praising Allah, and growing a little opium on the side. Herder Bob isn’t going to take the money and head to downtown Kabul get a penthouse and a sweet ride with 20″ rims. Hell, it isn’t like he is going to trust you to begin with when you are cutting down his income, asshole regulars are shooting his herd up, or planes are dropping 500 lb JDAMs on his fucking neighbors house. I’d take up arms against anyone that did that and tell them to wipe their ass with the money.

    A bribe will work with the Iraqi culture. You aren’t going to bribe the people in Northern Afghanistan or Pakistan. Ideological, morally, culturally, educationally, and practically, they are going to look at you like you have penis on your forehead. Iraq is full of pansies for enemies compared to Afghanistan, hell the had to import people to fight. Afghanistan is full of some hard ass Middle Eastern rednecks for enemies with generations of people that have dealt with war and hardhip. They’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt and are standing in line to ride again. Offering a little cash isn’t going to do it. It’s probably going to piss most off as an insult. Treating them like Arabs is a complete mistake and one we have and are currently making.

    The US fails on cultural understand at the highest levels. The arrogance, stupidity, and ignorance is a tifecta of fail with regard to anything outside the US. (see CDs, ipod, mission accomplished, NK, Cuba, fuck the list is never ending and gets worse once you start talking about “brown” people.)

  20. From “Letter to a Conservative Friend”:

    Military preemption — the “Bush Doctrine” — is nothing but global gun control. The Commander in Chief has turned the U.S. military into Handgun Control, Int. and intends to use it to disarm every rogue nation out there: first, Afghanistan; now, Iraq; next, Iran, North Korea, and God knows where else. And what about all the terrorist cells that don’t provide us with an identifiable “Japan” to target? How will any of this prevent a monster from walking across our border and unstopping a jar of anthrax in a major city? How can we pretend that the military can disarm every rogue in the world any more than the police can disarm every rogue in the country?

    READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.

  21. …can we offer them less than $100 million? Like maybe… 40 acres and a mule?

    They might get a poppy farm in Afghanistan.

    Right before the bombs start falling…

  22. Honestly, how is indefinite detention in the US better, Chapman?

  23. The question of what exactly we are going to do with these people has always been the, er, elephant in the room.

    (1) Can’t send them overseas; the only countries willing to take them want them only to imprison and torture under conditions that make Gitmo look like a beach resort.

    (2) Can’t release them in the US; many of them are bona fide terrorists, after all, and none of them qualify for a green card.

    (3) Can’t imprison them indefinitely without due process – not doing that is exactly the horse Obama road into the White House on.

    (4) Can’t put them into the civil justice system – its not clear to me exactly what violations of the US criminal code they committed within US jurisdiction, for starters, and everyone agrees that much of the evidence against them is inadmissable in a criminal trial, regardless of its value. If they are acquitted, you’re back at (1) or (2).

  24. RC,

    Ummm…you missed step 5: give them due process (not under US criminal code, but as POWs or enemy combatants or whatever)

    After that, what to do with them becomes easy. If guilty, execution is fine, I think. If not guilty, releasing them into the US, if necessary, isnt a problem.

  25. none of them qualify for a green card.

    Ummm…the qualification for a green card is the government giving you a green card.

  26. Does anyone wonder why conservatives have their intellectual bona fides questioned when they hear Mitch McConnell say such stupid things? Can you imagine the constituency that he is aiming at, that would find this kind of thing compelling?

    I heard a KS Senator bitching about some of them coming to Leavenworth, “what am I going to tell my constituents when they realize a terrorist is living near their neighborhood?”

    Tell them a “terrorist” is just a guy who wants to harm this nation, much like a gangster is just a guy who wants to do various bad things, they are not magic pixies or superheroes and they are no more likely to escape Leavenworth and do harm than they are to escape Gitmo and do harm. Jesus!

  27. RC
    Trying them under a military tribunal system is not in itself inherently flawed imo, but when the career military defense attorneys assigned to the tribunals keep resigning in disgust that even the barest defenses would be impossible that’s a sign a different system is in order. It need not have all the elements of the domestic court system, but must have some reliable method for allowing the innocent to demonstrate their innocence.

  28. Does anyone wonder why conservatives have their intellectual bona fides questioned when they hear Mitch McConnell say such stupid things? Can you imagine the constituency that he is aiming at, that would find this kind of thing compelling?

    Presumably the same constituency that the Democrats are aiming at when they propose bills to do the same thing. There is no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this sideshow of danger to communities from bringing prisoners here.

  29. “Gosh, it’s grand that you’ve realized that they’re all citizens, with all that entails.”

    Pretty sure there is no mention of citizenship in the 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8th amendments.

  30. Ummm…you missed step 5: give them due process (not under US criminal code, but as POWs or enemy combatants or whatever)

    The Bush approach, that Obama ended shortly after taking office. That’s probably the way to go, yes – military tribunals under the UCMJ.

    If they are acquitted, I still think they should be repatriated to where they were captured. If the local authorities have a beef with them, that’s no business of ours.

    Releasing them into the US, even after acquittal? Still not a big fan, and I think its politically impossible. And I do believe there are requirements that must be met to get a green card; I’m not aware that anyone has unlimited discretion to hand them out to anyone they fancy. I could be wrong, though.

  31. Tell them a “terrorist” is just a guy who wants to harm this nation, much like a gangster is just a guy who wants to do various bad things, they are not magic pixies or superheroes…

    Terrorists are usually ideologically abased. Gangsters are economically based. It’s much easier to remove economic incentive. It’s next to impossible to remove ideological incentive.

    The escape issue is ridicules. The legal implication and global implication, since we are currently willing to give up our sovereignty willy nilly, are the issues. The issue by which this cluster fuck will be decided will be a political one. Which is sad and will most likely do more harm than good.

    I say send them back. Next time you catch them you have no reason to keep them for interrogation. One $1.00 bullet will solve the problem. (the damn bullet used to be $.10)

  32. “There is no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this sideshow of danger to communities from bringing prisoners here.”

    No difference? None? You mean we could count the number and the emphasis placed on this issue of both parties and it would be equal?

    From the very article you cite:

    “The request for $50 million to close the Guantanamo prison and transfer its detainees elsewhere has occupied many lawmakers — especially Republicans — even as others in Congress voice growing worries about the chances of defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    I don’t know html of the “ESPECIALLY REPUBLICANS” would have been highlighted.

  33. Trying them under a military tribunal system is not in itself inherently flawed imo, but when the career military defense attorneys assigned to the tribunals keep resigning in disgust that even the barest defenses would be impossible that’s a sign a different system is in order.

    I think that was under the system Congress set up after Boumediene, which as I understand it was kind of UCMJ-lite. Just give ’em a straight UCMJ process.

    Conviction of being a war criminal (illegal combatant), of course, would result in execution, which could be stayed pending cooperation with our intelligence-gathering.

  34. I do believe there are requirements that must be met to get a green card; I’m not aware that anyone has unlimited discretion to hand them out to anyone they fancy. I could be wrong, though.

    Thats a matter of law. Congress/Prez can have that changed in about 5 minutes.

  35. The Bush approach, that Obama ended shortly after taking office.

    Who are those two people and why should I care what they think or do?

  36. MNG, ah yes, a parenthetical remark in a story is obviously proof enough to you. The Republicans are raising the issue because they’re the opposition. But the way that the Democrats are responding (some preemptively) pretty clearly indicates that this is something that the Democrats feel would be effective against their constituency as well. It’s an idiotic point, to be sure, but it’s not extremist in our society the way, e.g., being against the stimulus package was. (Sigh)

  37. There is a way to indefinitely detain them without trial. Simply declare them POWs thus ensuing they are to be held until the end of the war (i.e. the surrender of Al Qaeda and the Taliban). Given the fanaticism of the beligerents opposing us, we can reasonably predict more than a few deaths from old age before any releases.

  38. Saying that “well, the Democrats are doing it, but only because they want to defend themselves politically from the Republicans who are bringing up the issue” is exactly the same argument as saying that Republicans under GWB didn’t want to increase spending or have a prescription drug benefit, but they had to inoculate themselves politically against the popular Democratic proposals to do the same thing.

    There’s a bit of truth there, but in the end, how much does it matter?

  39. Each one is entitled to a trial to determine their guilt or innocence; the guilty are imprisoned, and the ones not convicted are set free. If our court system were not tied up with petty litigation and drug offenders, it could easily handle the load.

    Mr. Chapman some took a group of detainees and convicted them of terrorism, I’m not quite sure how he did it, but it is the same “rule of men” over “rule of law” thinking that Obama uses.

  40. I like my plan better than these have trial concepts.

    Is brainwashing torture? What if we create some Arabian Candidates?

  41. “Half trial concepts.”

  42. It’s not like a federal judge would order the release of foreign terrorists trained in Afghanistan into the U.S.:

    “In October, a federal judge ordered the 17 Uighurs released inside the United States because they are no longer considered “enemy combatants,” and no other country is willing to take them. But an appeals court reversed the order. The Uighurs then turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to take the case.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/07/holder.guantanamo/

    This is not the only case where people held in Gitmo are trained terrorists. But in some cases we may lack the evidence necessary to prove this in a civilian court, or cannot release the proof for security reasons. What about a enemy combatant captured on the battlefield – do you call the capturing privates into court to testify as to the actions of the detainee? Etc.

    Despite the outcries, many of the detainees in Gitmo really are bad people who should be detained and either releasing them into the U.S. society or even relocating them to U.S. prisons would be ill-advised. I doubt that placing radical Muslims and jihadis in our prison system (which has a history of churning out newly minted Muslim converts) would benefit our country.

  43. Collective republican politicians: Deeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp

    They’re just angry because the majority of the public has stopped buying the image they’re trying to paint of terrorists, as sinister superhuman monsters. The truth is they’re a collection of poorly trained men with ragged beards and shitty guns whos only advantage over us is unfailing morale and fearlessness. They very much want us to give the terrorists what the terrorists want: terror. They can’t have it, sorry.

  44. FYI: The Uigher “terrorists” are a small racial group in the Mongolian area of China that prefer more independence than the Chinese Government wants to give them, and most likely have little interest in launching terrorist acts against the U.S. The Chinese, of course, also classify Tibetians who prefer independence as terrorists.

    You can’t lock someone up because you are of the opinion that they are “bad people.”

  45. No system that looks objectively at the evidence will do. Many were captured without concern of proof, since the understanding at the time was the President could do anything he wanted. At the time, a mere claim that person X was an enemy was good enough. Sure the prison at Gitmo holds some valid terrorist with real evidence to support the claim. Let’s put them up for trial first since was can get easy convictions.

    “””I think that was under the system Congress set up after Boumediene, which as I understand it was kind of UCMJ-lite. Just give ’em a straight UCMJ process.”””

    The system created after Boumediene would have to be applied retroactively. I think they could be tried under the tribunal rules that existed prior to them being caught.

    But, we have tried terrorist in criminal court before. We have convicted terrorist in federal prisons now. The idea that putting them in a US prision is more dangerous is simply bullshit. We are putting them in maximum security prisons, not giving them passes to Disneyland.

  46. “””You can’t lock someone up because you are of the opinion that they are “bad people.””””

    Sure you can. That doesn’t make it right. I think it’s more apt to say it’s tougher to get a conviction based on opinion. That’s the problem with some prisoners at Gitmo. Some are there becuase of someone’s opinion. I think it’s fair game to assume, since Obama has jumped on the don’t make America look worse bandwagon, that Obama now feels the need to convict everyone else, or it may make America look bad.

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