Guantanamo: Obama, Cheney Clash on Detainees

President Obama sticks to his plan to close the Guantanamo prison in a major national security address one day after a lopsided Senate vote to block the move until the White House says what will happen to the remaining 240 detainees.
In his speech, Obama says some detainees will be brought to the United States for trial and imprisonment, but promises, “We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.”
In a speech answering Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney says Obama promised to close Guantanamo “with little deliberation and no plan” and says of the detainees: “Just don’t bring them into the United States.”
Your view: Should Guantanamo remain open? Should some detainees be brought to the United States for trial and imprisonment? For background, see Kenneth Jost, “Closing Guantanamo,” CQ Researcher, Feb. 27, 2009.


Tia Garcia said...

Before I begin to answer the questions, I figured I would give you a little background knowledge about what I know of Guantanamo Bay detention camp. I am currently a student at the University of Cincinnati and I just finished writing a research paper on the treatment of the detainees at Gitmo. While doing research, I learned a lot about many of the controversies surrounding Gitmo, including the rights of the detainees, the court issues, and the problems with closing the camp. In fact, I actually used three of your articles as sources (Closing Guantanamo, Persecuting Terrorists, and Treatment of Detainees).
I focused my research paper on the treatment of the detainees because it was appalling to discover that we were not applying the rights of the Geneva Conventions to the prisoners, or better known as the “unlawful combatants.” I reviewed court cases such as Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush in which some of the rights of the Geneva Convention were restored to the detainees, but it still does not seem like the government is doing enough. The inability for the detainees to properly defend themselves along with the use of torture methods by the military just seems wrong, and the fact that Guantanamo has turned into a legal black hole has a lot to do with it.
On that note, I believe that Guantanamo should not remain open. What started as a necessary means of protecting our nation has now turned into an unnecessary mean of detaining potential criminals without allowing them the opportunity to challenge their imprisonment. In my research, I found that many of the Gitmo detainees have no history of violent acts, and some are even detained without charges against them. If this is true, then why must they be held in such a place still? With the prospects of the end of the War on Terror, and especially with the death of Osama bin Laden, is it necessary to keep spending money to keep Gitmo open?
In my research, I also found that many military attorneys themselves acknowledge the legal issues surrounding Gitmo and they believe that military commissions are not necessary. Even with the some rights to defend themselves, the dispute over where and how the court cases should work is still ongoing, leaving them in limbo until the issue is resolved. This means that the detainees cannot fully exercise their rights to defend themselves because the government cannot decide where they should be allowed to defend themselves.
This is why the detainees should be moved to the United States for trial and imprisonment. I believe that Edward L. Dowd JR., and Earl Silber are right when they wrote in your article Closing Guantanamo that “national security court proposals, by lessening due-process standards, threaten to undermine the constitutional rights safe- guarded by our existing criminal justice system.” We have prided ourselves as a country on our ability to honor our Constitution, and by doing so we have set examples for other countries to follow in turn. If we begin to overlook the right for someone to be “innocent until proven guilty,” then we letting the very terrorists we are after destroy our country’s ideals and values.
During WWII, we sent hundreds of Japanese-Americans into internment camps even if they posed no immediate threat to the United States. What we did was unjust, and we did not realize that until years later. We must learn from our mistakes in the past, and not let fear cause us to act irrationally. As a country, we should be able to feel safe without the need for a high-security detention camp like Gitmo. We should not let terrorists send us into such as stage of panic that we forget to treat people in a humane manor ourselves. We will never be able to go back to what we were before September 11, but closing Guantanamo may be the step we need to get us as close to that as possible.