Thursday, 02 July 2009 11:38
We probably have not heard the last about detainees at Guantanamo nor the methods used, after the 9/11 attacks to get intelligence from them. President Obama has weighed in on both issues. As a result, the stories will not go away.
The president has stated, “that the Guantanamo prison” will be closed no later than one year from now.” But, where will the prisoners go? The best estimate I can find is that there are around 250 being held. Some, already released, have gone back to fighting with the Taliban and against us in Afghanistan. Even Democrats in the Congress are protesting the sending of the detainees to prisons in their states. And it is also said that some of the detainees will be free – either in their native country or, as in the case of Chinese prisoners, released in the United States. Stay tuned, because this will continue to play out.
Next, President Obama has ordered that harsh interrogation methods cease. Water boarding has been considered a “harsh” method for obtaining information from suspected terrorists, and that is why there has been so much chatter about this issue. At the same time, the president says that the United States will be safer? And Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not have much of a memory?
The concern I have is that Congressional leaders were briefed about all of the actions. None of them spoke up. Now, it has become a political issue having nothing to do with the safety of Americans. One other dimension of this matter is to have released the information gained from the harsh questioning. There appears from some leaks that significant information was obtained – information which enabled law enforcement officials to head off other attacks. How about releasing the results?
In one area, the Constitution calls for the government to guarantee “due process.” At the same time the Constitution requires the government to “ensure domestic tranquility.” The challenge again is preserving that balance in the face of terrorists who have no regard for human lives, including their own.
Interestingly, had due process been applied to the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks, most of them would have been expelled from the country. They would also never have been able to get a driver’s license in most States. Several were in this country on “student visas” but were not enrolled in any school!
We are a naïve country. We tend to be forgiving, and always look the other way. Wouldn’t it be great to work together by preserving the Constitution while protecting the lives of Americans through strict enforcement of existing laws.
Perhaps I am too emotional about these issues. But, I will never forget the destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists. An action actually planned by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Gitmo detainee. Once a month I would enter the World Trade Center to attend a board meeting at about the same time as the planes were flown into the Twin Towers. I wonder, if a poll were taken of the friends and family members of those murdered in the attacks, how they would feel about closing Gitmo and water boarding.