WORST OF THE WORST…. John Cole raises a point that used to be more commonly known, but which has apparently been overlooked of late.
CNN just had James Inhofe on talking about how we could not bring the Gitmo folks to the states because they are too dangerous, and it reminded me of something that has been bothering me the last few days. There seems to be an effort to pretend that we chose to put these people in Gitmo for security reasons.
That is simply nonsense on stilts. It was little more than barbed-wire and plywood when we started detaining them there, and we had to build the damned place.
Indeed, given the recent debates, one might be led to believe that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is some kind of technological marvel, a prison to end all prisons, an imposing structure surrounded by sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads, all because the detainees there are so uniquely, extraordinarily dangerous.
This isn’t even close to the truth. As Adam Serwer explained, “The point wasn’t that U.S. prison facilities were incapable of holding dangerous people — we know they are capable because we’ve held them there before, and we continue to do so. The original point of Gitmo was to put terrorist suspects in a location beyond the reach of U.S. law, so they couldn’t take advantage of constitutional protections.”
President Obama drove this point home nicely this morning.
“There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law — a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.” [emphasis added]
Something to keep in mind the next time Congress takes up the issue. If keeping suspected terrorists locked up in secure, maximum-security facilities is a top priority, keeping them at Gitmo doesn’t make any sense at all.