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Guantanamo detainees: What's next?

Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008, at 1:45 PM

What about those "detainees," accused by United States officials of being terrorists, populating Guantanamo Bay?

Should they just stay there forever, with no way to defend themselves even if they've been falsely accused? Or should the U.S. justice system apply to them, also?

Enough Supreme Court justices think so that they've voted 5-4 to allow trials. Some Bush administration representatives disagree, saying normal paths of justice don't apply to terrorists bent on destroying the U.S.

John McCain says the vote represents one of the saddest days in American history, and accuses election rival Barack Obama of being naive. Barack responds that Republicans use fear to sway voters and surrounded himself today with retired military and Bill Clinton-era (of course, they're Democrats) security personnel.

But enough of the politicking. What about the prisoners?

Are they threats to the United States? Should they be tortured and abused to obtain information, as Bush administration officials feel? Should the accused be barred from trials or even legal representation?

Or should America follow its traditional pattern of fair, but firm, treatment and "liberty and justice for all?"

Do we "walk softly and carry a big stick," as Theodore Roosevelt said -- or smack the rest of the world over the head with the stick as today's foreign policy sometimes seems to be?

I'm not sure of exactly how Guantanamo detainees should be handled.

But I'd like to see the United States project strength yet fairness whenever possible. We can protect ourselves against terrorism without stooping to the terrorists' level. Otherwise, we only hurt ourselves.


Comments
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David,

I think your line about protected ourselves against terrorist without stooping to the terrorist level is so important and the key to the entire topic. The process by how we get there is the sticky point. I'm not for torturing people to get answers, after all if I were in that situation I might tell them what they wanted to hear to get them to stop, but...I want my loved ones protected also.

-- Posted by Sharon22 on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 5:41 PM

I agree with John McCain.....they should not be given any rights to our legal system or given representation to go along with it. I think it is a disgrace to even entertain the idea. What do you think they would be doing to our people if they were terrorists in their country? Do you think it would be liberty and justice for all? They get recognition for killing others and see it as an honor to die doing it. So, it is a sad, sad day in America!!!!

-- Posted by jkelley on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 7:38 PM

I believe one thing that sets America apart is the system of justice we have. I am not claiming it is perfect or oven close, but it is about the best we can do.

I do not see how anyone could defend the actions of the current administration by pointing to what others would do in the same circumstance. Yes, certainly many other militaries would torture, abuse and kill their POW's or "enemy combatants", but if you can see that that is wrong, I fail to understand how you can justify the exact same actions taking place in your name and at your expense.

Regarding the legal defense of the combatants, I would say that judging from history, internment is not so out of line. It is however, not something that should be as open-ended as this appears it will turn out to be. It could be realistic to expect that we will be in the current conflicts at least as long as some of the detainees are expected to live. Given that variable, I would have to side with anyone who believes a trial is necessary. I would say the likelyhood of having a few(or more)captured men that are actually innocent is pretty high and I would not want to be responsable for imprisoning someone for the rest of their live for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 8:38 PM

I fear this decision will come back to bite us. While there may be innocent detainees at Gitmo, putting them in the American justice system is a huge mistake. If I read the decision correctly, these detainees may have the opportunity to bypass the military tribunal entirely. That would put them on equal footing with anyone accused of a civil or violent crime in the US. That includes the right of discovery.

Well, that's stupid. They weren't accused of theft, they were caught in a war zone either shooting at US soldiers or looking pretty darned suspicious. As far as how they're treated, if you've ever seen the medical facilities, diet requirements etc you'd realize this ain't exactly the Hanoi Hilton. It's closer to the Hilton period. Sorry, I just think this is moronic.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 10:13 PM

Ever been to a Veterans Home and spoken with any of the Residents there? Maybe some of them could enlighten you of the hospitality they have suffered just for being American not necessarily even terrorist?

I hope for one minute you don't believe that all this has just started happening in the past couple of years. With the technology of cell phone pictures we now have instant memories, which is something we didn't have during WWI, WWII, Vietnam War or any other war for that matter.

Maybe though if you just sit down and have tea and cookies with a nice friendly chat they might give you the information to save thousands of people....(yea Right, Give me a Break)

In The Words of the Late Great Rhett Butler

"Good God Woman get a grip this is War, it isn't a Tea Party"

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 11:29 PM

Hmm, so since Bush and others seem to be withholding information from the public, and the judicial system can't get any answers, should we start torturing them one by one until we get some truth? I mean it seems fair to me. God didn't give us the right to TORTURE people, at the expense of gaining nothing. Many of the detainees have never been convicted of a single crime. They have been captured and held without reason, only for "looking suspicious"... How absurd and laughable is this administration that will not hold such camps on American soil because it is ILLEGAL in America.

How many lives have been saved via these inhumane, purely demonic camps? Nobody knows. If it were your friends, your neighbors, your family, and they were being held under the SAME circumstances, for NO reason, by a different government, we'd call them terrorists... Yet when WE do it, we're "saving lives".. what a complete double standard.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 11:56 PM

What do you think they would be doing to our people if they were terrorists in their country? Do you think it would be liberty and justice for all?-- Posted by jkelley on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 7:38 PM

See what I mean, they are called terrorist when people are held in prisons for no reason in "their" country".... but when AMERICA does it, it's fully excusable, without jurisdiction, without checks and balances, and all of course in the name of peace... Are you seeing this sick mentality?

I sure hope none of our soldiers (like John McCain in Vietnam) are ever held as POWs for years upon years with NO justice (oh wait, they are)... How can a man who was once the same sort of victim in foreign hands, say its perfectly acceptable to treat others that way... ? I guess it's fine to call yourself a war hero, because you were held in detainment camps for years, but we call people that we hold in detainment camps for years, terrorist. It's all propaganda and I am personally SICK of the brainwashing B.S.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 12:17 AM

I think if you're going to hold these people in prisons, we should find out what they are there for and charge them with something. I don't know about the torturing issue... I feel like if you get some useful, credible information it may be permissible (in RARE cases)...

There is no point in holding alleged criminal (not charged criminals) without reason, so figure out a charge and prosecute them to the fullest extent. If many of you only knew what the CIA did to get info anyways, these camps would be the least of your worries.

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 12:32 AM

I fail to see how, if they were caught "in a war zone" the rights of the Geneva convention would not apply. I would guess if you were to look into those interned, you would find a mix of circumstances, both with and without evidence. While the decision may well come back and bite us, it was in reaction to prior bad decisions.

If our administration had given the basic legal protections(as we have agreed to in the past)to the involved parties in the first place, you would not have this current mess. I do reluctantly agree that the people detained(at GB)at this point do not have it so bad. That does not discount what they have already endured, nor does it make it okay to keep them interned the rest of their natural lives. I do not believe that GB is the only place we are holding detainees though, and I dare say the others may not have it so good.

Discovery is not such a bad thing to me. I for one would like to know more, not only about who was detained and why, but what exactly was the role of our administration and the handfull of agencies supprting the operations involved. Do we have that much to hide? The cases that would be tried anytime soon are cold, if not dead. I do not think there would be many national secrets being exposed.

I hate to be cliche' to answer your comment, but one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. I assure you that many people of many nationalities have considered Americans terrorists at different times throughout recent history. If you would, explain to me how you would view a foreign soldier walking around your back yard with a gun rounding up your family members that did nothing wrong, then taking them away. Even if the soldiers had the best intentions, it would be hard to be very accommodating.

Also, while I do agree that tea and cookies will not provide much actionable intel, unfortunatly neither will torture. I doubt any one of the detainees at this point even know what is happening. Any plans, plots or associations they may have had are no longer even a memory on the outside world. Everything from their previous life has likely changed. I also seriously doubt that any one of them had the information to save thousands of people to begin with, probably not even to save 10 people. Sadly, in all likelyhood, not even 1 person.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 12:39 AM

They weren't accused of theft, they were caught in a war zone either shooting at US soldiers or looking pretty darned suspicious.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Wed, Jun 18, 2008, at 10:13 PM

That is not true. The majority of the detainees have not committed any hostile act toward the US.

The Supreme Court even noted that NONE of them are even from countries in which we are at war.

How do we know they are terrorists? Because the Bush administration tells us so? Do they have a crystal ball they look in that tells them who the terrorists are? This is the same government that swore Iraq had WMD's. I think we might need a second opinion.

-- Posted by Richard on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 3:44 AM

We allowed even the Nazis to have their day in court.

If it hasn't occurred already,do we want to set a greater precedent for improper treatment of innocents?

It hasn't been that long since we have had literal and figuritive witch hunts.

The people with the knowledge we want would probably never get caught.

If they did,whatever followed would likely be the same tangled intrigues all intelligence communities follow - even in peace time.

The majority of the terrorists are dupes who would:

1. Never have known anything that useful.

2. As has been pointed out,have obsolete data,at best.

3. May have been given disinformation to spread.

4. Would spill their guts with no cohersion at all in a chat room,instant message or email with an American housewife posing as a renown terrorist. (true story)

Do we want to sacrifice our honor for so little gain-or do we want to use shrewder tactics and undermine our reputation as the "Great Satan" at the same time?

The last I heard,the devil was much fonder of oppression,hatred,pain,injustice and winning at any cost than he was fairness,compassion or personal integrity.

Woodrow Wilson said:

"The nation's honor is dearer than the nation's comfort; yes, than the nation's life itself."

Even if we lacked a more efficient way of gathering intelligence from our adversaries,would we not want to take the high ground precisely because it would demonstrate the moral poverty of those who cannot rule or claim a victory without destroying those weaker than themselves?

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 4:43 AM

If only one of the detainees is innocent, then what right do we have to torture them and hold them without giving them a right to prove their innocence? Imagine if you were that detainee and you were innocent and you faced torture and no prospect of release or even the chance to defend yourself. Yeah, it easy to say they are all guilt and should be hanged but we don't know if they are guilty or not . . . and nothing will be gained by just keeping the hidden and locked up without the chance to go through evidence and hear both sides of the story. Yes, I am sure Americans are treated far worse in prison in other countries and even beheaded but does that mean we want to be just like them or worse. I would like to think we as Americans won't to be above that and to do the right thing and to show what fair justice really is.

Torture by the way is never acceptable . . . and I can't believe anyone that calls themselves a Christian could believe otherwise.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 7:47 AM

This all comes down to the "Us and Them" mentality like in the Dr.'s blog... It's acceptable for US to do this because we are "gathering information" (right)... and it's despicable, inhumane, and terrorism if THEY do it.

Soon enough the glaze over your eyes and the cotton in your ears will slowly fade and you'll wake up to a world where America is not always one step ahead. Not because many GOOD people haven't tried, but because many EVIL people use the VERY SAME tactics in accomplishing their goals as the adversaries they so loudly accuse of terrorism.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 8:04 AM

Think Animal Farm or a few other horrific tales.

Some of the scariest involve people becoming the very thing they oppose.

If our break from England led to the carnage of the French Revolution,what would emulating our negative acts accomplish?

Oh,that's right.

Seeing a Godly,freedom-loving nation perform genocide gave the world permission to slaughter Jews,Armenians.Rwandans and countless others.

Let's give the people of this planet more proof that one can triumph by being noble and less evidence that one can only win if no one else is alive to play the game.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 5:21 PM

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25429778

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Jun 29, 2008, at 8:15 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.