The Continuing Insanity of Guantánamo

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There are 149 prisoners still at Guantánamo. The youngest is 30, the oldest is 65. Over twenty of them have medical conditions that need monitoring and attention, just like any aging population would.

The military has tried to build up its medical capability at Guantánamo, with mixed results. Several years ago, when a detainee needed a stent placed in a coronary artery, the military spent $1 million on a mobile cardiac catheterization lab. The prisoner ended up refusing the procedure, and the unused equipment, packed up but stored outdoors, has since decayed, officials said.

— Charlie Savage

I am not saying we should just let all these people go. I am not saying that some of them are not terrorists. For instance, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is there. However, it is well-known that there were innocent bystanders rounded up in the frenzy of arrests in 2002, some of them teenagers, who are now over thirty years old, that have been rotting away in Guantanamo.

The U.S. Government is spending $3 million per year per detainee to keep the camp open and operating. It has cost us 4.8 billion since the camp was opened.

We are not getting very good value for our tax money. Obama has been wanting to close the camp since his first campaign. Our dysfunctional Congress has been in the way. With nobody in charge making meaningful decisions, this is continuing.

The country should decide to close the camp, serve the prisoners due process (trials and executions) and let the rest go.

The government needs to stop this insanity it propagates in the name of the American people.

Check out this excellent article Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans by Charlie Savage for more information.

Ruminations on Guantanamo

In World War II, the Japanese kept a secret camp called Ofuna:

This wasn’t a POW camp. It was a secret interrogation center called Ofuna, where “high-value” captured men were housed in solitary confinement, starved, tormented, and tortured to divulge military secrets. Because Ofuna was kept secret from the outside world, the Japanese operated with an absolutely free hand. The men in Ofuna, said the Japanese, weren’t POWs; they were “unarmed combatants” at war against Japan and, as such, didn’t have the rights that international law accorded POWs. In fact, they had no rights at all. If captives “confessed their crimes against Japan,” they’d be treated “as well as regulations permit.” Over the course of the war, some one thousand Allied captives would be hauled into Ofuna, and many would be held there for years.

— Unbroken – by Laura Hillenbrand (Kindle Locations 3055-3059)

After World War II, at the trial of the Nazis:

Justice Jackson: Protective custody meant that you were taking people into custody who had not committed any crimes but who, you thought, might possibly commit a crime?

Hermann Goering: Yes. People were arrested and taking into protective custody who had not yet committed any crime, but who could be expected to do so if they remained free … the original reason for creating the concentration camps was to keep there such people whom we rightfully considered enemies of the state.

— The Trial of Hermann Goering, Nuremberg, 1946

From Wikipedia on Guantanamo:

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also referred to as Guantánamo or Gitmo, is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous prisoners, to interrogate prisoners in an optimal setting, and to prosecute prisoners for war crimes. Detainees captured in the War on Terror, most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia were transported to the prison.

After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions.