Latest developments on the issue of detainees in the Global War on Terror (GWOT)
The story that just won’t die… After railing for months (if not years) against the Bush Administration policies on detention of enemy combatants captured during operations in Afghanistan and other battlegrounds of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the Obama Administration is making a series of stunning reversals from overheated campaign rhetoric to the policies applied when actually governing. Undoubtedly, you’re all “shocked, shocked” that this is so…
The first development, buried so deep in the news that it didn’t even make the Denver newspapers (even the now-late-lamented Rocky Mountain News), was the release of an official report commissioned by the Obama administration on the treatment of enemy combatants held at the Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detention facility. An exhaustive investigation concludes that
“the Guantanamo Bay prison meets the standard for humane treatment laid out in the Geneva Conventions, according to a report for President Barack Obama, who has ordered the terrorist detention facility closed within a year.” …
“The report found the camp to be in compliance with the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3, the international rules that require the humane treatment of prisoners taken in unconventional armed conflicts, like the war on terrorism. The camp’s controversial force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes was also found to be compliant with the Geneva guidelines, a second government official confirmed.”
As a presidential candidate, Obama criticized the detention center – and issued an Executive Order to close the facility at the U.S. naval base in Cuba within a year - almost immediately upon taking office. Perhaps a bit too hasty? Clearly, this report brings into question the underlying basis for that order.
Campaign rhetoric: 0, Facts: 1
So what to do with the detainees?
“Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, named a top federal prosecutor, Matthew Olsen, as executive director of Obama’s Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force, which will recommend where to send each detainee. Obama has ordered the task force to consider whether to transfer, release or prosecute the detainees, or figure out some other ‘lawful means for disposition’ if none of those options is viable.”
As noted in my original post (Bill Ritter – War Criminal?) on this topic, other “lawful means for disposition” does NOT include Ritter’s proposal to bring them as a group to Colorado’s SuperMax penitentiary – all protestations and obfuscations of self-proclaimed media “watchdog” groups (That Watchdog Don’t Hunt) to the contrary.
The second development in this issue – which has received a bit more media attention – is Obama’s reversal from his campaign rhetoric critical of the previous administration’s “extralegal” detention of enemy combatants. Obama policy NOW is in complete agreement with Bush administration policies and legal arguments:
“… the Obama Justice Department has told a federal court that detainees currently being held by the United States at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan are unlawful combatants not subject to the Geneva Conventions and can be held without charge for as long as the conflict in Afghanistan continues. The position is exactly the same one taken by the Bush Administration.” (emphasis added)
Campaign Rhetoric: 0, Facts: 2
On this issue, at least, the Obama Administration is discovering the difference between campaigning and governing. Nothing like learning on the job… As I predicted on the Backbone Radio show on February 8th, the Democrats (aided and abetted by the Liberal Establishment Mass Media, or LEMMings) are now anxious to sweep this issue under the rug, now that they can no longer use it as a rhetorical club with which to beat up a Republican administration. In fact, even Obama’s Executive Order to close Gitmo could easily be reversed, once the issue is no longer in the media spotlight. Wouldn’t THAT be an interesting development a year or so from now?
Action items – how YOU can get involved:
House Republicans recently introduced legislation to prohibit federal courts from ordering the release or transfer of Gitmo detainees into the U.S. The Enemy Combatant Detention Review Act (HR 630) establishes clear rules regarding the detention of known terrorists.
Senator James Inhofe also introduced the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Safe Closure Act of 2009 (S370) that will PROHIBIT the United States government from using ANY funds to transfer detainees from Gitmo onto United States soil and PROHIBIT the United States from using ANY funds to construct a facility on U.S. soil to house these detainees.
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