Guantanamo

Five Guantanamo Detainees to be Released; 143 Still Being Held

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Five detainees are to be released from the Guantanamo Bay military prison. The detainees were "approved for transfer" after a comprehensive review of their case was conducted by an interagency government task force, set up following President Barack Obama's 2009 executive order to close the facility.  

The release of these men is a victory for habeas corpus and the rule of law. They were never charged, much less convicted of any crimes, and their release is completely appropriate.

Unfortunately, despite five years having passed since Obama signed that executive order, 143 detainees will remain at Guantanamo. They are all being held without trial, in violation of both U.S. law and the Geneva Convention.  

The Obama administration has previously blamed the delay in closing Guantanamo on congressional opposition and a "difficulty of deciding what to do with the remaining 200 or so detainees."

The first excuse would be more believable if Obama had not completely abandoned the pro-civil liberties platform he campaigned on after assuming office. Among other things, he signed a law allowing for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial. As Sheldon Richman explained in 2011:

Obama's intention to sign the NDAA tells us exactly where he stands on the Bill of Rights. As Human Rights Watch put it: "President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law."

The administration may well be having a difficult time deciding what to do with the detainees they do not have enough evidence to prosecute, but who have nonetheless been deemed too dangerous to release. However, holding them indefinitely shows a profound lack of respect for due process. In the words of Reason's Jacob Sullum:

How "meaningful" can such due process rights be when a conviction is the only outcome the government plans to respect?

America should stand for more than just opposition to terrorism. It should stand for the values of freedom and the rule of law that it was founded on. Indefinite detention without trial stands in stark conflict with these values.

Need a refresher on the situation at Guantanamo? Check out this Reason TV video on the topic:

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  1. The Obama administration has previously blamed the delay in closing Guantanamo on congressional opposition and a “difficulty of deciding what to do with the remaining 200 or so detainees.”

    Odd how some things that are difficult to decide on get delayed for six years while others are shoved through posthaste.

    Maybe if we start a We the People petition Obama will get around to the Guantanamo issue.

    1. “Odd how some things that are difficult to decide on get delayed for six years while others are shoved through posthaste.”

      Why, its almost as if he has an agenda he isn’t telling us about.

  2. “Unfortunately, despite five years having passed since Obama signed that executive order, 143 detainees will remain at Guantanamo.”

    Fucking Obama and his executive orders.

    Sometimes, they’re more important than Congress or the Constitution.

    Sometimes, they don’t count for shit.

    I’m surprised Obama doesn’t start selling indulgences.

  3. I’m not saying Guantanamo is legal or justified, but can people avoid blatantly lying when opposing it? Indefinite detention without trial, until the end of hostilities, is explicitly allowed under the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

    1. That’s one of the reasons why the Bush Administration was so painfully incompetent in its handling of them. I said it here at Hit & Run at the time–if you classify them as POWs, you can keep them as long as hostilities continue. Hell, if these men really were terrorists, there’s a good chance we could have tried them as war criminals and held them long after hostilities ceased.

      So why didn’t the Bush Administration classify them as POWs?

      In a nutshell, because they wanted to torture them. Those interrogation policies that people went bonkers about being used on legitimate POWs at Abu Ghraib in Iraq–were the same polices they were using on “detainees” at Guantanamo. The reason it was wrong in Iraq was because we were using those interrogation procedures (including water boarding) on officers and others in the Iraqi Army, who had been captured in uniform.

      The Bush Administration could have chosen to classify them as POWs if they wanted to, and if they had, keeping them in Guantanamo until there are no more terrorists anywhere in the world who call themselves Al Qaeda would have been perfectly alright according to the Geneva Conventions.

      But Bush decided not to classify them as POWs. So they were entitled to a fair trial, etc. Nobody’s complaining about them keeping POWs there–but according to the U.S. government, they’re not POWs. They’re basically criminals. Since when can you keep criminals imprisoned indefinitely without sentencing?

      1. http://archive.frontpagemag.co…..RTID=27198

        While American troops generally avoided the excesses of the Soviets and French, they were sharply criticized by the British for using excessive brutality and force in suppressing the Werwolf. General Eisenhower ordered the execution of all Werwolf fighters captured in civilian garb.

        It was understood among U.S. troops that they had a green light for applying frontier justice to terrorists, with no lawyers or trials. The counterinsurgency manual issued by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expedition Force (SHAEF) recommended that troops simply ignore Geneva Convention rules when dealing with the Werwolf.

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  5. So here’s how the rehab program works that the Obama Administration has set up. Thwy show up at a 12 step meeting and say:

    Hi I’m Muhammad al-Zahrani and I’m a terrorist.
    The rest of them say: Hi Muhammad al-Zahrani welcome

    and after getting their 90 day chip they are cured of being a terrorist.

    That’s it

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