Why Guantanamo cannot, and must not, be closed

We all know about the impossible situation the future Nobel Laureate created when he declared on the first day of his presidency that he would close the Guantanamo terrorist prison in one year. However, as I learn from Gordon Cucullu’s column in today’s New York Post, both the obstacles in the way of the closing, and the horrific costs on society if the closing goes through, are even bigger than I had realized. The good news is that the former will probably save us from having to deal with the latter.

By the way, since the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, responding to criticisms from across the political spectrum, have told the press that they did not award Obama for the “hopes” he has raised, but for what he has actually done as president, and since the nominations for the Prize were closed by February 1, and since the only thing Obama had actually done as president before February 1 was to order the closing of Guantanamo, the inescapable logical conclusion is that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for issuing an order which, if enacted, will almost inevitably result in the release of scores or hundreds of violent jihadists in the United States.

We all know the expression, “They say ‘peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” But this is getting ridiculous.

The trouble with closing Gitmo
October 14, 2009

“WE may have difficulty meeting the January date” for closing Gitmo, Attorney General Eric Holder said recently. “Opposition from lawmakers to the idea of bringing detainees to US prisons could hurt the effort to close the prison at Guantanamo.”

No kidding. It’s a fair question if Team Obama will ever be able to close the Guantanamo Bay facility.

The first problem is finding a domestic site to move the detainees to, when the mere floating of a name generates enough local protests to derail the idea. In Leavenworth, Kan., for example, bipartisan political and citizen opposition was sufficient to force White House planners to remove the Leavenworth prison from the list.

The only suggested site that still seems a live option is Standish Maximum Security Prison in Michigan. Recent dueling leaks from anonymous White House sources first took off Standish max off the table—then put it back on.

And even Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a strong close-Guantanamo supporter, won’t support this option unless it draws “support from state and local officials.”

Yet there are signs of desperation and back-peddling.

The Arenac County Board of Commissioners last week voted 4-1 in favor of taking detainees—but the Standish City Council couldn’t even make quorum when it met to discuss the issues. And the three council members who expressed support for the idea indicated that they’d rather just take normal prisoners from other states.

In any case, Standish max is plainly ill-suited for the job: California last month rejected the facility as inadequate for housing its maximum-security prisoners—and hardened terrorists would pose a tougher problem.

And the locals are uniformly opposed. Grassroots groups led by the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North have worked to inform citizens of the risks involved. The promised economic benefits would turn out to be minimal at best—and far outweighed by the prospect of converting a small town into a magnet for terrorists eager to make their bones in a public, horrific attack.

Escape is not an issue, but a revenge attack (like the 2004 schoolhouse massacre by Chechen radicals in Beslan, Russia) would be a major coup for terrorists to make the point they’ve failed to score since 9/11: You are not safe from us any where.

Nor is Standish max a remote location—it’s smack-dab in middle America, within convenient driving distance from Dearborn, home of the nation’s largest Muslim community.

And any domestic site will likely attract legions of protesters and become the focus of a new “close it down” campaign. Amnesty International, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other anti-Gitmo groups won’t be satisfied as long as our government detains any enemy combatants. They never let the facts stop them from demonizing Gitmo as “the gulag of our time”; why give up the fight simply because terror suspects are now being housed in the United States?

To be fair, the Bush administration bears a great deal of responsibility here. It was largely mute or fumbling in explaining just what Gitmo is, and what a significant role it plays in both keeping enemy combatants off the battlefield while gathering actionable intelligence.

Intelligence services prefer not to reveal, let alone publicize, their successes—for fear of alerting an enemy to his weaknesses. But a more forthcoming revelation of major terrorist takedowns, thanks to information generated at Guantanamo, would have gone a long way to building public support for the facility.

But simply moving the detainees to a US location won’t appease the critics—certainly not enough to justify the acknowledged risk of importing committed jihadists onto our soil.

Nor has the administration realistically engaged the other issues here. Take the question of detainees deemed too dangerous to release, but who couldn’t (thanks to lack of admissible evidence) be convicted in our criminal courts. The administration has opted to continue holding them indefinitely, under military supervision.

This is lawful under the Geneva Conventions, which allows such confinement for the duration of hostilities. But it seems unlikely to withstand US legal challenge by the ACLU, etc., which are expert at finding compliant judges to issue lunatic rulings. The case would eventually head to the Supreme Court—where new Justice Sonia Sotomayor seems likely to vote against the administration.

When ordered to release the detainees, Team Obama will face only bad choices: Let them go free here, or turn them over to revolving-door countries like Yemen or Saudi Arabia—where, as recent history demonstrates, they’ll be back in the fight within months.

The administration seems sanguine about all these risks—but the concerned citizens of Standish or any other possible site are the ones whose lives would be on the line.

Gordon Cucullu, a former Army lieuten ant colonel, is author of “Inside Gitmo: The True Story Behind the Myths of Guanta namo Bay.”

- end of initial entry -

A. Zarkov writes:

The fear of revenge attacks on the community where the terrorists are detained is a real one, and we have a precedent for this: Northern Ireland. The British government held suspected IRA terrorists in detention facilities in Northern Island. But the prison guards lived in the local community and suffered reprisal attacks from the IRA terrorists who freely circulated in Ulster (Northern Ireland). Holding terrorists in a remote location has many advantages. I don’t know what moving the prisoners out of Gitmo will accomplish. U.S. domestic high security facilities are pretty nasty places to be held. But try telling this to my senator—Diane Feinstein. She keeps harping on the fact that the terrorists won’t be able to escape, and avoiding the real issues.

October 15

EK writes:

“THEY SAY PEACE PEACE BUT THERE IS NO PEACE” is from the prophet Jeremiah 6:14 and again in 8:11. Jeremiah is blaming the king (administration) for the destruction of Israel by lulling the people with false promises that peace is at hand. (Of course their intention was to prevent the people from overthrowing them for not aggressively defending the nation.)

LA replies:

Thank you. I didn’t remember that it came from Jeremiah. The two verses are identical and the text preceding them almost identical. Here’s the instance that culminates in Jeremiah 8:11:

8:9 The wise men are ashamed, they
are dismayed and taken: lo, they
have rejected the word of the LORD;
and what wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore will I give their
wives unto others, and their fields
to them that shall inherit them:
for every one from the least even
unto the greatest is given to
covetousness, from the prophet even
unto the priest every one dealeth
11 For they have healed the hurt
of the daughter of my people
slightly, saying, Peace, peace;
when there is no peace.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 14, 2009 11:31 PM | Send

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