Gitmo no mo...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

While not exactly new news, the executive order closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is still getting a lot of airplay among the media and pundits. I am by no means an expert in this area, but it seems that both extremes may be wrong to some degree. Those on the far left seem to think it heralds an end to the holding of persons defined as enemy non-combatants and everyone at Gitmo will get a trial. Those on the far right seem to believe that the "terrorists" will be let go and free to wreak havoc on us.

Like I said, both of those positions are wrong, though I would have to say that the right is being the most irrational at this time. The full text of the executive order can be found here. Go ahead and read it. It is not the most riveting reading, but it is pretty short. Basically, it says the the detention facility has to be closed in one year. What will be done with those who are held there? Basically, one of three things: release to their home country or a third country, trial, or transfer to another facility in the US.

As a part of the determination, the order states that those who are not being released or transferred may be prosecuted under US law in an Article III court. It will be up to the legislature to establish a court or allow them to be tried in a federal court. The order also names a variety of people that will participate in the review of these cases. Those that are deemed a security risk to the US or just too dangerous to release will be transferred to another facilty. Where? The order states that it will be a:

transfer of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo to facilities within the United States, and the Review participants shall work with the Congress on any legislation that may be appropriate.

Most likely, this will be another military base or some type of supermax prison. The order isn't specific on how they will be tried, but it will be up to Congress to work with him to establish the system to deal with the individuals. Like I said, these people won't e let go tomorrow, but the ball will get rolling on some type of due process and allow the people detained to challenge the lawfullness of their detention. Time will tell what kind of trial they will receive, but it will certainly be better than the nothing they are getting now.

I think this is a very ambitious Order, but I also think it is very well-crafted and flexible enough to allow for a variety of situations. Bush wasn't the first president to act like this. Lincoln and Roosevelt both acted in similar ways, but they did something that Bush didn't do. They attempted to work with Congress and the Courts as much as possible. Bush just acted, for the most part, on his own and ignored Congress and the Constitution. Obama is attmepting to remedy this in a way that is consistent with the Constitution and the safety and security of our country.


B Mac 10:17 PM  
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B Mac 10:19 PM  

I think you're right... both ends of the spectrum are wrong. We're closing a facility that has given us a black eye in the view of the world. That's pretty much it.

Jon Stewart has a pretty funny take (which makes that point pretty well).

Smitty 10:34 PM  

First, Obama is keeping to his campaign promises. I think a year is ambitious...I think it'll take longer, given that some of the detainess' home countries don't want them back. What do you do? (besides...make them citizens and give them jobs!)

I read a great book called Dangerous Times. It is a documenting of each time a President has usurped some of our Bill-of-Rights freedoms, and later gave them back (the caveat being that each time e got them back, they were just a tad less thn before). Steves is right; it's not new. But it is unprecedented in its callous disregard of even Congress.

Smitty 10:34 PM  
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Rickey Henderson 4:33 PM  

Rickey looks forward to the day when all enemies of America will be sent to the "Phantom Zone" in which General Zod and his followers were incarcerated in Superman II.

PS: Rickey had a query for you in the comments section his previous post at RwR, Steves.

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