Close Guantanamo

Plagued by scandal and the most severe corruption in any recent White House, the President has decided to lead on issues that play to the people that campaigned for his re-election.  As Americans, we have to believe in a multiple party system.  The best of the Democrat party has always been reflected in their Civil Rights turn since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  But many modern Democrats seem to have abandoned their passionate dislike of civil liberty infringements like the Patriot Act during the Obama Administration. 

Consider that it has been Republicans, the party that took us into a ten year war in two countries that had to point out the executive abuse of assassinating an American citizen.  But scandal may be the kick in the pants this administration needs to keep campaign promises.

I’m referring specifically to the President’s speech on terror yesterday.  All in all, I found it to be a very positive speech with many helpful ideas.  The three major terrorism issues were addressed head on by the President and I will anxiously watch to see what happens next.

First, this Administration’s decision to restrict drone assassinations is a good and necessary thing.  The less we rely on an easy mode of killing people, the less dead people we will end up with.  Yet it will be interesting to watch this Administration as we determine whether the promise is to actually do anything.  Are attacks already being tamped down because so many people have already been killed?  Is our relationship with Pakistan and Afghanistan completely ruined after we have killed so many?  What will be the effect of a restricted drone policy?  Does it include the purchase of fewer drones for the military?  Does the Military Industrial complex then move to sell even more drones to federal, state and local governments domestically?  These are answers to questions that will need to be fleshed out.

Second, I appreciate the President’s willingness to indicate that the War on Terror does have an end.  A President McCain would literally say that we are in a century-long fight.  It will be better to view Al-Qaeda as a crime problem akin to a violent and far-reaching gang rather than a war with shadow enemies.  I’m not sure that anyone knows when the “war on terror” will end, but I appreciate knowing that it will end. 

Third, the re-commitment to closing the Guantanamo detention facility is a great moment for America as a nation.  Gitmo is a prison for non-American citizens that have not been charged in the legal sense with any crime, tried via jury trial or military tribunal and have certainly not been notified of a sentence.  If you believe the worst case scenarios, there are reports of foreigners being abducted and incarcerated indefinitely in order to be interrogated and restricted of further movement.  Guilt is presumed.  The President is now discussing closing Guantanamo Bay, which I fully support.  We should be working to make the United States Government a force for good throughout the world, not a shadowy SWAT military that abducts civilians. 

However, what the President actually does will be much more important than his speech.  His announcement that formerly suspected terrorists may be released back to Yemen is a good start.  These people need to either be sentenced or sent home.  Likewise, moving the inmates to American soil has the potential to do a lot for their own Constitutional rights. 

But 46 prisoners remain that are labeled as dangerous terrorists while the court-admissible evidence proving their guilt is weak.  The President offered no path forward on this difficult question. 

What worries me the most, is the precedent of moving the arbitrarily titled, “enemy combatants” to U.S. soil and holding them indefinitely without trial or sentencing in America.  Once our government does this on American soil it gets a little closer to home.  Could domestic terrorists one day be held in the U.S. without trial or conviction but merely with the label, enemy combatants?   

Only time will tell.  We know that government with an inch will take a mile so this should certainly worry us all.  I appreciate the President’s speech and hope that he will follow through with these initiatives. 


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