Monday, February 23, 2009
Gitmo is all over the news this week.
Last week White House Counsel Greg Craig visited Guantanamo and today Attorney General Eric Holder made the trip. No reporters were allowed on that trip. It should also be noted that Obama has never been to Gitmo.
Over the weekend we had the quiet news that treatment of the detainees does in fact meet Geneva conventions (even though they aren't, as enemy combatants, actually entitled to them). It seems that force feeding isn't actually torture; trying to save their miserable lives meets Geneva conventions. English and art classes aren't torture either, nor is the 4700 calories a day they consume.
We also learned that detainees at Bagram are not entitled to U.S. Constitutional rights - it seemed a totally obvious conclusion but I guess it needed to be said.
Now we have this ad by Military Families United protesting today's release of Binyam Mohamed.
This guy is a bad egg. Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu wrote about him in his book Inside Gitmo. Mohamed trained in Afghanistan at the al Farouk camp. From there he supposedly went to Kabul for urban warfare training and eventually he graduated to bomb-making and explosives. He met with senior al Qaeda leadership as well as with Bin Laden. By this time he was proficient in remote control devices, or IEDs. He traveled with another known terrorist, going from safe house to safe house, eventually ending up in Pakistan where he learned how to make dirty bombs.
Benyam Mohamed agreed to carry out an attack on the U.S. He was sent to Karachi to meet with high-ranking al Qaeda leaders. His mission was to be to target high-rise apartment buildings that relied on natural gas. According to Cucullu's research, most notably the charge sheet against Mohamed, they would rent an apartment in one of these buildings and then use the natural gas in that building to initiate an explosion. They were even given the funding for this mission and instructed to fly to Chicago. But all good plans go awry and Mohamed was detained for a forged passport, then turned over to American authorities. Thank goodness.
In October 2008, the charges against him were dropped in a move that was called "procedural" and everyone believed that charges would be refiled. Does this move sound familiar? Remember the dropped charges against al Nashiri - the USS Cole bomber?
Remember Obama meeting with those families, promising that all cases would be reviewed and justice would be swift?
When asked about the release of Mohamed, Robert Gibbs said, "the President made a decision at the beginning of his administration to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay and to start a process of evaluating the detainees there in accordance with his solemn obligation to do all that he can to keep our country safe, to do it in a way that protects our men and women in uniform, and does so in accordance with our American values. That process, as you know, is ongoing. In terms of the specifics related to Mr. Mohamed's case, I would point you to the Department of Justice. But the President feels confident that the process that his administration has undertaken will yield results that keep us safer."
I'm not sure about you, but having Mohamed walking freely about does NOT make me feel safer.
I was encouraged earlier in the week by the overruling of the Urbina decision, but now I'm having second thoughts. I'll say it once again, but Obama's decision to shutter the place was premature; these people have to be held somewhere. They are NOT entitled to due process per se; they are enemy combatants and by rules of war they can be held until the end of that war. As it turns out now, we learn that Gitmo meets conventions, so why not keep it open and keep these guys from attacking the United States again?