Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guantanamo Baywatch

I was going to blog about the ridiculous fear mongering over the plan to close Gitmo. Much of the hysteria is regarding where to keep these alleged terrorists while they await trial, and of course, much of the hysteria is ripe for parody.

First, there is the childish belief that detainees are supervillains, and somehow our world-class prison industrial complex can't hold them. Then there are the farcical scenarios where the prisoners are released into the general population. Inevitably, we hear the raucous cries from the not-in-my-backyard crowd. (Hey, I'm looking out my window right now, and my backyard isn't a maximum security prison either!)

But a controversy so absurd is best handled by The Daily Show (if video doesn't show, click here):

Still, I feel one element has been left out of this ongoing discussion. We're forgetting why the Guantanamo Bay Prison was opened in the first place. The location was ostensibly selected for its security. But let's get real. The location was really selected for its legal ambiguity. John Yoo famously opined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees. Furthermore, the US has no Status of Forces Agreement with Cuba, and thus the Bush administration argued that US courts could not review detentions. However, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise...

So at this point, closing Guantanamo is largely symbolic. And because it's so symbolic to us and the rest of the world, it is also wise. It shows the world that we've renewed our commitment to our founding principles of liberty and justice.


Trung said...

for john c. woo to state that the geneva conventions do not apply in this context is shameful. the serious violations of human rights that have taken place have been well documented with amnesty international; so much so that a cell tour was scheduled in many cities across the united states to give one a perspective of what type of conditions prisoners face each day.

it's even more shameful that most of the prisoners have been held indefinitely with little to no rights to communicate with legal counsel or relatives. in some cases, the prisoners have never been charged with a crime. those who are responsible should be charged with war crimes as dictated by the geneva conventions and charged for violating the universal declaration of human rights.

Kristen said...

Rachel Maddow had a good report tonight on the trials of Gitmo prisoners and how little evidence exists, and what evidence does exist isn't organized.

Also, another weird link I've been meaning to post is about this particular model of Casio watch that US intelligence officials have identified as a watch that terrorists use when constructing time bombs... so some people have been imprisoned because they owned this very popular and cheap watch.