Friday, August 16, 2013

Guantanamo Bay

(Cartoon by Tom Toles and snagged from the Boston Globe.)

Yes, I'm feeling better.  I think the shock of seeing DINO DiFi actually say something reasonable scared the bug right out of my body.  In an op-ed piece the California Senator co-wrote with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, some pretty sensible analysis emerges.  Keep in mind that Dianne Feinstein  is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dick Durbin  is assistant majority leader of the Senate.

The detention facility on our military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is holding 166 individuals. Most of them have been there a decade or more.

Operating Guantanamo costs about $450 million a year — or about $2.7 million a detainee, according to the Defense Department. Consider this: It costs $78,000 to hold a convicted terrorist in the most secure federal prison in the United States, Supermax in Colorado. With the sequester stretching budgets and Defense Department employees under furloughs, the U.S. is spending, per Guantanamo detainee, roughly 35 times the amount it spends at Supermax detaining a convicted terrorist. ...

Guantanamo has devastated our reputation as a champion of human rights, weakened our international partnerships and remains a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists.

The hopelessness at Guantanamo led detainees to go on a hunger strike this year — more than 100 at its peak. Twice a day, military personnel force-feed them with a tube inserted through their noses. For some detainees, this has been going on for more than five months. This large-scale force-feeding violates international norms and medical ethics. ...

As chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, respectively, we are committed to preventing terrorist attacks. We believe terrorists deserve swift and sure justice, and severe prison sentences. But holding detainees on an island off U.S. shores for years — without charge — is an abomination. It is not an effective administration of justice, does not serve our national security interests and is not consistent with our country's history as a champion of human rights.   [Emphasis added]

The prison is also operating in violation of several international treaties and conventions to which the US is signatory, treaties and conventions approved by Congress.

 This is one subject Mr. Hopey Changey needs to use the bully pulpit for.  He needs to speak dramatically and forcefully and embarrass Congress Critters into some sensible and meaningful action.  Perhaps he could start out by reminding them that we are not by nature a bunch of cowards, that we really do believe that the rule of law is more powerful than the threat of terrorism, real or imagined.

Is that too much to ask?



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