OpEdNews Op Eds

Obama's Guantanamo Appeasement Plan

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 5/29/09

Truthout Original
Wednesday 27 May 2009

Two days after his inauguration, President Obama pledged to close Guantánamo within one year. The Republicans, led by Senators John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts, immediately launched a concerted campaign to assail the new president. They claimed his plan would release dangerous terrorists into US communities and allow released terrorists to resume fighting against our troops. Fox News agitator Sean Hannity and Bush team players like torture-memo lawyer John Yoo filled the airwaves and print media with paranoia.

The Republican attacks were bogus. A 2008 McClatchy investigation revealed that the overwhelming majority of Guantánamo detainees taken into custody in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent of wrongdoing or bit players with little intelligence value. A substantial number of those prisoners were literally sold to US officials in exchange for bounty payments offered by the US military. A Seton Hall Law Center report has debunked Pentagon claims that many released detainees have "returned to the fight." And no one has ever escaped from one of the US super-max prisons, which house hundreds of people convicted of terrorist offenses.

The Republicans have continued to oppose the effort to close Guantánamo. In an attempt to burnish his image and forestall war crimes charges, Dick Cheney now leads the charge, making ubiquitous attacks on Mr. Obama. Keeping Guantánamo open is "important," Cheney declares. He claims that closing Guantánamo would endanger Americans, and warns that if detainees are brought to the United States, they would "acquire all kinds of legal rights." Mr. Obama is also taking heat from the intelligence community. Those officials, like Cheney, seek to justify what they did under the Bush regime.

And now even the Democrats are piling on the bandwagon. Reacting defensively to the Republican attack campaign, the Senate voted 90 to 6 to deny Mr. Obama funds to close Guantánamo until he comes up with a "plan" for relocating the detainees there. "We spent hundreds of millions of dollars building an appropriate facility with all security precautions on Guantánamo to try these cases," said Democratic Sen. Jim Webb on ABC News. "I do not believe they should be tried in the United States," he added.

The pressure has caused Mr. Obama to buckle. Timed to coincide with a Cheney speech to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Obama announced an appeasement plan to deal with the 240 remaining Guantánamo detainees. Parts of his plan would threaten the very foundation of our legal system - that no one should be held in custody if he has committed no crime. These are Mr. Obama's five categories for disposition of detainees once Guantánamo is closed:



    1) Those who violated the laws of war will be tried in military commissions.

Mr. Obama's plan would backtrack on an early promise to shut down the military commissions. Mr. Obama now claims that such commissions can be fair because they will no longer permit the use of evidence obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation methods. He fails to mention, however, that the Pentagon is using "clean teams" to re-interrogate people who were previously interrogated using the prohibited methods. When they once again give the same information, it miraculously becomes untainted. Mr. Obama also fails to acknowledge that those tried in the military commissions are forbidden from seeing all the evidence against them, a violation of the bedrock principle that the accused must have an opportunity to confront his accusers.

Even the US Supreme Court has disagreed with this part of Mr. Obama's proposed plan of action. In Ex parte Milligan, the Supreme Court declared military trials of civilians to be unconstitutional if civil courts are available.

Prisoners falling in this category should be tried in the courts of the United States, because the laws of war are actually part of US law. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution says that treaties shall be the supreme law of the land. The Geneva Conventions and the Hague Convention, which the United States has ratified, contain the laws of war.

    2) Those who have been ordered released from Guantánamo will remain in custody.

Seventeen Uighurs from China were ordered released after they were found not to be enemy combatants. But they continue to languish in custody because they would be imperiled if returned to China, which considers them enemies of the state. Suggestions that they be brought to the United States have been met with paranoid NIMBY (not in my backyard!) protestations. So, under Mr. Obama's plan, they will remain incarcerated in a state of legal limbo.

    3) Those who cannot be prosecuted yet "pose a clear danger to the American people" will remain in custody with no right to legal process of any kind.

These are people who have never been charged with a crime. Mr. Obama did not say why they cannot be prosecuted. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claims as many as 100 people may fall into this category. Included in this group are those who have "expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden." They will suffer "prolonged detention."

Mr. Obama's plan for "prolonged detention" is nothing more than a newly-coined phrase for "preventive detention," a policy that harks back to the bad old days of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and the internment of people of Japanese extraction in the 1940s. If Mr. Obama succeeds in convincing Congress to legalize "prolonged detention," the United States will continue to be a pariah state among justice-loving nations. The US Congress, still rendered catatonic by post-9/11 rhetoric, will probably capitulate along with Mr. Obama.

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, noted that Mr. Obama's new system of preventive detention will just "move Guantánamo to a new location and give it a new name."

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://www.marjoriecohn.com

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is author of  'The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, and 
Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Stanford Antiwar Alums Call for War Crimes Investigation of Condoleezza Rice

Bradley Manning Treatment Reveals Continued Government Complicity in Torture

"Big Brother is Watching You" -- Beyond Orwell's Worst Nightmare

Obama's Af-Pak War is Illegal

Obama Spells New Hope for Human Rights

Arizona Law Recalls Past US Racism

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Gitmo prisoners can decrease in numbers, but until... by Margaret Bassett on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 8:56:36 PM

 

Tell a Friend: Tell A Friend


Copyright © 2002-2014, OpEdNews

Powered by Populum