Sunday, July 02, 2006

Guantanamo: the two practical choices

Regardless of the legal intricacies involved with the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision rendered by the Supreme Court, all the practical problems associated with Guantanamo remain. The Bush Administration has two options: keep the prisoners incarcerated without trial until they die, or allow them fair trials.

We think of fair trials as having certain elements: presentation of charges to the accused, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, legal counsel for the accused, accepted trial procedures for evidence, etc., and impartial judge and jury to decide the case.Without these elements the trial is a show trial which is no trial at all.

Even President Bush, one of the biggest fans of Guantanamo, and one of the nation’s leading experts on good and evil (one hopes someone will collect his sayings into a volume that will take its place alongside the other volumes of profound morals), says he eventually wants to close the prison. He has not specified how he would do that.

No matter what the politics surrounding Guantanamo, there are only two practical ways to resolve it. There might be a third somewhat impractical way. The remaining prisoners could do the sporting thing—as some have already done—by hanging themselves.


At 11:12 AM, Blogger -epm said...

The president and other defenders of Guantanamo-style detention have doggedly insisted that the detainees here are universally evil terrorist bent on the indiscriminant violent destruction of America.

This may be true. Who knows? But clearly the time has come to either put up or shut up. Given the certitude with which the president accuses the detainees, it should be a simple task to prove these accusations in fair and open trials based on procedures universally accepted by democratic and free countries the world over. And by proving the truth of the accusations, gain tighter global alliances based on trust and respect in American moral leadership. This is how a free country behaves. This, unfortunately, is not how this administration behaves.

Like it or not, America, by virtue of it's power -- militarily, financially, and culturally--, is a beacon to the world. How we treat our enemies -- how we respect the principles of fairness, truth and justice -- will determine whether we are a beacon of moral integrity, or a warning signal of corrupt ideology... a tragic object lesson to all free nations of corrupting power and lost ideals.

(sorry for getting all preachy... sometimes I get out of control)

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Lynn said...


One of the things I find strange about the affair is that some sort trial agreement has not been worked out long before this. However, I recognize there are many who believe in USA unilateralism. World opinion doesn't count. You see the efforts of people like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is trying to arrive at a less embarrassing solution, dismissed out of hand.

I don't disagree with what you say. I can be as preachy as the best of them. :) As a practical matter, you would think that some form of fair trial procedure could be worked out that would satisfy one and all instead of the expensive, time consuming, and embarrassing political and courtroom battles.

I also recognize that the practical is not much in vogue these days.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger -epm said... would think that some form of fair trial procedure could be worked out that would satisfy one and all...

Firstly, the current administration viscerally and vigorously believes it holds unary power. Furthermore, the current congressional leadership has been all too willing to act as a lapdog enforcement arm of the executive branch. Thus there was nothing to "be worked out." (And what of world opinion? Fuggetaboutit!)

Secondly, and just as fundamental a point, this administration operates under the doctrine of Truthiness. That one needs only to emotionally believe something is true for that notion to be considered a reality. In this topsy turvy world of gut instinct decision making, facts and evidence become distrusted, and emotional conviction becomes immutable truth.

So what do you get when you couple unary power with a dysfunctional attachment with reality? A collection of half-baked, directionless policies. And a nation adrift in a malaise of fear and loathing, but no effective plan of action. Our current government is flailing about in an ocean of complexities and claiming action. They're mistaking loud and dramatic splashing and water treading with actually swimming in an intelligent direction.

It seems to me, modern Western civilization has solved the problem of fairly and effectively trying those convinced of criminal acts... both civilian and military. The more the administration dances around why the UCMJ, or other existing models, cannot be used, the more they reveal the weakness of their claims.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Lynn said...


The scary part to me is that the Administration is not willing to engage in any meaningful dialogue even with their own Party and Congress. It is reminiscent of the fall of the Nixon Administration.

I think it is really important that some countervailing force asserts after the November elections. I am really frustrated with the Democratic Party right now, but there are no third party alternatives in my voting districts. Thus, I will be voting straight Democrat.

I don't consider the Bush Administration conservative. They are a different breed. That being said, I don't think the conservative agenda works when you expose its arguments to logical scrutiny. A lot of conservative notions such as small government are based on returning to a time that never existed and can't exist given the nature of the large nation state and global capitalism.

I'd like to think I have gotten more savvy about political debate during the past year. I see better how framing works and have a renewed enthusiasm for truth and logic.

Maybe, I am just fooling myself.


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