Friday, September 4, 2009

Gitmo Prison Blues

While filling in at the Daily Dish, Chris Bodenner does us all a favor by tearing apart Elise Cooper's weak arguments against moving Guantanamo prisoners to facilities in the United States. Cooper's piece, titled (apparently without irony) "No Terrorists in My Backyard", brags that there was a consensus against housing Gitmo prisoners here among those interviewed: namely, security experts and members of Congress. The problem: they're nearly all Republican politicians. And one of the two security experts is Michael Chertoff, who hardly counts as impartial - when he was head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division in 2003, he sided with John Yoo's memo that exempted the military from federal law during wartime and authorized torture at the prison. He had a hand in making Gitmo the nightmare it was, and unfortunately remains, for the US.

Bodenner does a fine job demonstrating why none of Cooper's arguments make sense, and he notes that the piece "reads like a cobbled-together press release." It does have a bit of a thrown-together feel to it, especially this humdinger from Rep. Tom Rooney:
Congressman Rooney points out that since a lot of money was spent in making Guantanamo Bay a state of the art prison America should keep the detainees there. He does not support the Obama administration’s view that Guantanamo must be closed because of the stigma associated with it.
Where to start with this (besides the obvious question of why we elect such people to Congress)? How much Guantanamo cost to build has nothing to do with whether or not we should keep it open; that question is decided by its helping or hindrance of our national security objectives. So the "stigma" of Guantamano is a very good reason for closing it - but, just for clarity's sake, let's not call it a stigma. That understates its danger. Guantanamo is an incredibly powerful recruiting tool for our enemies, and since we can safely imprison terrorists without handing them a recruiting tool, the security cost of keeping it open far outweighs the benefits. With no coherent argument opposing this move, it's hard to characterize Republican behavior as anything besides posturing.

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