Close Gitmo

One of the lies our God King told us was that he was going to close Gitmo. I join with…

to say, “Keep your promise, Mr. Prez.”

Our state run media, like Uncle Screwtape, largely functions not by putting ideas *into* our heads, but by keeping ideas out.  So, for instance, if it weren’t for the Internet keeping you informed, you would scarcely know about the repellently monstrous acts of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, nor about the trial in which those acts are being documented. It’s a story that, while “covered” is carefully placed somewhere on Page 7 and is not given the “This tells you what they are all really like” treatment that nuts like the Phelps cult always lovingly receive.

In the same way, the state-run media hasn’t told you anything about the hunger strike being held by prisoners in Gitmo.  After all, they’re just prisoners in Gitmo so they are automatically scum.

Only here’s the thing:

There are men there who have been cleared of all charges and are not being released.  There are others who have been in legal limbo, with no court date in sight, for years.  All while we live with a second term president who promised to close Gitmo in his first term, and seems to be doing nothing on the issue now.

In short, President Hope and Change is overseeing a prison system that has what we *know* are innocent men behind bars, whom we simply can’t be bothered to release, along with other men whom we can’t be bothered to find out if they are worthy of prison or not.  They are guilty of being swarthy and Muslim, but beyond that, we don’t know and don’t care.  So these forgotten prisoners, in their desperation, are hunger striking.

It’s of a piece, of course, with this Administration’s method of dealing with “terror”: blow up weddings and funerals and deliberately murder women and children on the theory that some of them may be terrorists.  Afterwards, declare them terrorists and nobody will be the wiser.

Our state-run media is not telling you that story, because our President is Just and Wise and stories like that will upset you and make you think incorrect thoughts about his Justice and Wisdom.

Still and all, along with Ironic Catholic (linked above) and  Chocolate for your Brain and Patheos’ own Frank Weathers and Tom McDonald, Catholic and Enjoying It wishes to add its voice to those demanding that the innocent be set free (in a better world, it would be with apologies and restitution from the US government for years of unjust imprisonment) and that Gitmo be closed.

Finally, let me quote Ironic Catholic one last time:

This post brought to you courtesy of a Bunch Of Catholics Blogging To Close Gitmo, and I encourage you to join us by writing your own post/status/tweet today, March 21st.  My compatriot Sherry Antonetti is working with me on this, and her excellent post is here.  And before you say, is this what America has come to–a rally for change led by two humor bloggers?–let me be the first to say, unfortunately, it has.  But others are joining us and some have worked to educate on this issue a long time.  I tip my hat to their hard work.  Now let’s get praying and calling!

Pythonesque Hilarity
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! to the Great State of Nebraska...
Stephen Fry, Suffering, and Job
Echoes of Eden
  • Ironic Catholic

    Thanks, Mark. Let us pray.

  • Dustin

    I defend absolutely none of what you’ve described. But faulting Obama for not closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, calling him a “liar,” overlooks one significant thing: he actually sought to do that in his first year, and our never-less-than-superhawkish Congress stripped away every last dime to accomplish the deed. That innocent men languish there and feel compelled toward such desperation to alert their captors, and the world, of the injustice is a great crime. But our bloodthirst and antipathy has its chief abettor in the Congress.

    • Harpy

      Hmmm, I think the following article speaks to your assertion better than I could:

      MONDAY, JUL 23, 2012 07:10 AM EDT
      The Obama GITMO myth
      New vindictive restrictions on detainees highlights the falsity of Obama defenders regarding closing the camp

      In relevant part from the article:

      “But every time the issue of ongoing injustices at Guantanamo is raised, one hears the same apologia from the President’s defenders: the President wanted and tried to end all of this, but Congress — including even liberals such as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders — overwhelming voted to deny him the funds to close Guantanamo. While those claims, standing alone, are true, they omit crucial facts and thus paint a wildly misleading picture about what Obama actually did and did not seek to do.

      What made Guantanamo controversial was not its physical location: that it was located in the Caribbean Sea rather than on American soil (that’s especially true since the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the camp). What made Guantanamo such a travesty — and what still makes it such — is that it is a system of indefinite detention whereby human beings are put in cages for years and years without ever being charged with a crime. President Obama’s so-called “plan to close Guantanamo” — even if it had been approved in full by Congress — did not seek to end that core injustice. It sought to do the opposite: Obama’s plan would have continued the system of indefinite detention, but simply re-located it from Guantanamo Bay onto American soil.

      Long before, and fully independent of, anything Congress did, President Obama made clear that he was going to preserve the indefinite detention system at Guantanamo even once he closed the camp. President Obama fully embraced indefinite detention — the defining injustice of Guantanamo — as his own policy.”

      • Dustin

        Thanks, Harpy (which I just said to myself out loud to see if it sounded sarcastic, and it sort of does, but I certainly don’t mean it that way, and it’s the name you happened to choose).

        I remember Obama’s indefinite detention plan. But I also recall efforts by AG Holder to pursue trials in open, civilian courts for certain detainees, which received fierce push-back not only from craven New York pols, but from within the White House, namely from Rahm Emanuel (so much for ending Bush-style political interference in the DoJ).

        There was a brief period at the beginning of Obama’s first term during which he appeared to be making brave moves to counter the war consensus. Like nominating Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel (formerly the domain of the execrable John Yoo). But after the hawkish outrage, Obama caved in and shifted right. He’s stayed there ever since, and the key hermeneutic for reading this President’s exercise of war powers is that there is no political manuevering room to his left. There doesn’t exist a significant body of progressive pressure to force his hand on issues like indefinite detention and drones. He has no incentive to listen to people like me, who certainly aren’t about to vote Republican.

        His positions, then, have never been consistent, have repeatedly shifted due to the constraints of the war consensus, and hardly have any internal logic. He’ll generally sign off on whatever Congress throws him (pertaining to war powers). He’s developed into everything he said he wouldn’t be when he campaigned. Not because he lied. but because the consensus is so entrenched as to be nearly irreformable. I don’t know what it would take.

  • Dustin

    (I meant to conclude):

    its chief abettor in the Congress, who have, consistently, either obstructed any attempt to mitigate the savagery of the “War on Terror” or escalated it even to the point of applying said savagery domestically. Shamefully compliant courts, too, bear responsibility.

  • Claude

    In the same way, the state-run media hasn’t told you anything about the hunger strike being held by prisoners in Gitmo.

    Such nonsense. I read about the Gitmo hunger strike this morning in The New York Times.

    Your whole conspiracy theory about the media deferring to Obama is nonsense, as well. You seem to have forgotten that during Obama’s first term the administration proposed transferring Guantanamo’s prisoners to a high-security facility in the US. It was very controversial, and the proposal ran aground. As the Times reported this morning:

    In 2009, President Obama ordered that the prison be closed by the end of his first year in office. But the effort to wind it down collapsed as Congress, concerned about some former detainees who were linked to terrorist activities, has imposed an increasingly steep set of obstacles to any additional transfers.

    Where is the rage at Congress in your screed above? Oh. Nowhere.

    Yes, the situation at Guantanamo is a disgrace, and Americans should raise hell about it. No argument with you there.

    • Claude

      Sorry, I didn’t realize before posting that Dustin beat me to it!

    • Mark Shea
      • Claude

        Right. I remember some of this, mainly the ““too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release” conundrum. Greenwald focuses on the few Democrats who expressed reservations about the administration’s intention to preserve indefinite detention for some prisoners. But the Senate vote was 90-6. IIRC there was little public support for closing Guantanamo. (Just to make sure I googled and one of the first hits was a Gallup poll from the summer of 2009 in which 65% of Americans opposed closing Gitmo.) I’m not defending President Obama’s perpetuation of the Bush national security regime; as I’ve said before, I think it’s appalling. Obama showed no moral leadership on the Guantanamo travesty, probably because it was a political loser. But your caricature of a very difficult situation inherited by the president as massive indifference by an absolute ruler protected by “state-run media” is absurd. Why even in the article you link to Salon reports:

        The New York Times Editorial Page today denounced these new rules as “spiteful,” cited it as “the Obama administration’s latest overuse of executive authority,” and said “the administration looks as if it is imperiously punishing detainees for their temerity in bringing legal challenges to their detention and losing.”

        Doesn’t exactly sound like the Times is shilling for the president.

        • Mark Shea

          Difficult situation. Bush’s fault. Congress’ fault. ZZZZZ….. Obama *likes* indefinite detention. Get it.

          • Dustin

            It is, in fact, a difficult situation. Presidents have to be understood in the context of the opposition they face and the consensus they operate under. It’s not as simple as “He’s doin’ it for the lulz.” The whole DC political environment has to be understood as hardwired for the worship of war.

            What we can chart over the last decade, in watching the interplay between the White House and Congress, is a Congress reliably more hawkish than the President, which will reliably push him to greater extremes. It’s been this way at least since Reagan got the idea of randomly bombing puny countries every few years just because he could, earning him enduring praise. Arguably, and I know you won’t agree, Obama has tried to find within these constraints certain avenues for de-escalation. Drone strikes, if carried out with openness and accountability, would represent a better solution than cluster munitions, cruise missiles or a full-scale invasion. We’re thankfully about to see the end of the occupation of Afghanistan.

            My preferred blog for analyzing the defective politics of war-making and Presidential war powers is Lawyers, Guns & Money (

            • Mark Shea

              The most powerful man on earth is a victim too. Got it. Cry me a river.

              • Dustin

                No. See my 11:40. We should expect Presidents to do this, and we must create political incentives against it. A Congress that more jealously guards its constitutional powers and prerogatives, rather than one that fears accountability, is what we work toward.

          • Dustin

            Shorter version of the above: to react with cynicism, given an understanding of the unquestioned imperial assumptions of American foreign policy, makes more sense than to react with outrage. Presidents, unless forced to do so by Congress or the courts, do not cede power and will take every inch they’re allowed. Congress has forgotten Jefferson’s dictum: “[I]n questions of power . . . bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”

            • Mark Shea

              Dude, when the guy *wants* to, he has not problem ignoring the Constitution and granting himself a 007. He doesn’t *want* to close Gitmo. His *base* wanted him to and so he lied and said he would.

              • Dustin

                I, on the contrary, believe that he meant what he said during the campaign and had to adapt on the fly. I don’t see the dark machinations that Greenwald sees. Just conflicting views of power smashing into each other. The whole thing is, I agree, unquestionably unconstitutional.

                • Mark Shea

                  “he meant what he said during the campaign and had to adapt on the fly” is another way of saying, “He didn’t mean what he said.” You sound like a Romney press release.

                  • Dustin

                    (“Argh,” he says, yanking fistfuls of hair from his head.) No. That other events, other people, interfere with one’s plans doesn’t mean that one was insincere in committing to them. That doesn’t seem, to me, hard to grasp. Calling it, and me, Romney-esque is unfairly personal.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Dustin: This president has shown that when he really wants something he doesn’t let things get in the way. From health care to the power to murder people, he has shown that when it matters to him, he goes after what he wants. I think Greenwald is right: he *like* indefinite detention and the power to inflict it. We have no actual evidence he meant his promise. So I conclude that your tribal need to Defend Your Man is coloring your view here. Had Romney done exactly what Obama has done, we would call it –and excuse-makers for it–Romneyesque. If it walks like a duck…

                    • Claude

                      Dustin, stop yanking your hair! You will not convince Mark to abandon the tribalist canard of which he is so fond, even as it moves him to assign motive in such unguarded statements as:

                      Obama “likes” indefinite detention and the power to inflict it.

                      I don’t recall Greenwald making such a claim. He vilified Obama for reserving the option of indefinite detention but certainly did not speculate about the president’s personal sentiments. In addition, the courts have ruled that Guantanamo prisoners are not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Why the administration inflicted yet more contraints on the prisoners’ counsel when these prisoners already languish in a legal netherworld is something I would like to know more about. But I’m skeptical that it’s because the president is a vicious, power-mad tyrant.

                      By the way I heard on the news that the administration is thinking of shifting the drone program to the Pentagon where it will be subject to at least some oversight. A start.

                  • Dustin

                    (Replying here since I can’t reply to your 12:16):

                    First, he isn’t “My Man.” I didn’t vote for him on either occasion and I’m not even a Democrat, but thanks for thinking tribally and sorting me accordingly, as if asserting “This is very complicated” were akin to apologetics. Not knowing you, I don’t make such assumptions about you.

                    Second, I hardly think of Obama as a political steamroller. What he’s achieved, in for instance health care, took a long time, a lot of hard work, and was only accomplished after many, many, many concessions. There are plenty of occasions when he’s affirmatively given up on what he really wanted, in exchange for a smaller bit of progress.

                    Third, RE: the the drone question, namely the two al-Awlaki assassinations and the response to them, he’s operating in an oversight vacuum. Thanks to the Paul filibuster and, yes, pressure from the left, we’re building toward a moment when the Administration is going to have to explain itself fully. lay out its procedures for deciding targets and admit to a degree of accountability that’s been heretofore absent. Sen. Feinstein mentioned something like the FISA court to oversee and authorize signature strikes. The conversation is getting louder.

                    • Mark Shea

                      My apologies for assuming you were an Obama supporter. Still, I buy Greenwald’s take more than I buy the excuse-making. I still see no evidence he has ever been serious. His self-granting of indefinite detention and murder powers to himself tells me his Gitmo promises were lies. I have very little patience with excuse-making for the most powerful man on earth.

                  • Dustin

                    (Replying here as a means of replying to your 12:55.)

                    I think, contra Glennzilla, that politicians can generally be trusted to pursue the policies they campaign on. What actually gets accomplished depends on how they interact with co-ideologues and counter-claimants. For instance: Romney’s position on abortion took so many forms that one could scarcely discern what the man truly believed. But I feel he could be relied upon to appoint judges committed to overturning Roe, because of the incentives and constraints operative within his party. He had no political room to do otherwise and would’ve paid harshly had he tried (e.g., Harriet Miers). Obama, who opposed the invasion of Iraq and anticipated a broader repudiation of Bush-Cheney recklessness, almost immediately faced the constraints of the war consensus upon entering office. I believe that his adaptations have led him to change his mind on certain issues. The man who wanted Dawn Johnsen to head the OLC (which nomination was killed by a filibuster) would not have signed the NDAA (which issued from a veto-proof Congress anyway). But, broadly, I’m not interested in what he “wants” or “believes.” I care about the incentives that encourage (and, to a degree, mandate) bellicosity. I don’t make excuses for him when I say that the boundaries of debate in DC make much of what happens there pretty predictable. I wish we had a Congress that could smack him down. But the money and the polling is all against civil liberties. Has been for a long time.

                    I’m going to work now and can’t continue the conversation. Nice talking to you.

    • Ironic Catholic

      “Such nonsense. I read about the Gitmo hunger strike this morning in The New York Times.”

      OK. But that took five weeks of hunger striking to get a drop of NYT ink.

      • Claude

        There have been hunger strikers all along.

        • Ironic Catholic

          Yes, off and on all along. But with stomach tubes?
          In any case, the hunger strike just pulls one’s attention to the reality that, as far as I can tell by this combox, everyone is agreeing with: this is unconstitutional, wrong, and we have a voice to say so. What do we do?

          • Claude

            I think we do what you’ve already started doing!

        • Dustin

          (I can’t reply to your 1:46 so I’m quickly replying here before I leave for work)

          If the reporting accurate, and the handover actually takes place, than this is great, great news. Here’s what I could find:

  • Scotty

    Mark, I wonder what would you say to families of the fallen soldiers when one of those “detainees” who were “cleared of all charges” then proceeds to detonate an IED on a Afghan road a few months later?

    They may insufficient evidence to convict a detainee of a very specific charge, but that doesn’t mean they cease being enemy combatants in the Global War on Terror once an innocent verdict comes down. How do you justify releasing an enemy combatant before the war is officially declared over? Should be have just let Germans and Japanese combatants go free before May and August of 1945…?

    Ok, I’m sorry … I can’t go on pretending I’m a Neo-Con troll any longer. It hurts my brain and my basic human decency too much.

    • Mark Shea

      A pretty good impression. Next time mix in something about my probable hatred of Jews, babies, puppies and God and you’ll have it. Also, something something HITLER is good.

    • Jamie R

      Then we should treat them like we treat POWs. We have laws about how we treat combatants. These laws have been ignored. We also have laws about how we treat so-called “unlawful combatants,” who are nothing more than civilian criminals. These laws have also been ignored. The law is clear. We can either try them as criminals or detain them as POWs. There is no other option.

      • Dustin

        This gets complicated when detaining them as POWs becomes tantamount to indefinite detention, given the last two Administrations’ open-ended concept of the “GWOT.” But this administration, at least where American citizens are concerned, has admirably and consistently resorted to civilian courts whenever an American is captured on American soil (e.g., Faisal Shahzad). The prosecution in open court of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, neither an American nor captured in America, is a very positive step.

    • Ted Seeber

      The Geneva Convention is out of date by 60 years. I don’t understand why a perfectly adequate solution to an enemy combatant terrorist that you can’t prove IS a terrorist, isn’t a high tech version of the mice belling the cat.

      Implant a glucose powered radio transmitter in his leg and release him. Make sure our military and our allies know the frequency of the transmitter. His ability to be a terrorist vanishes, and there’s no need to keep him in jail.

      hmm- this idea could work for a lot of criminals. It is a fact of human nature that we sin less when watched….

  • roger m

    i have lived all my life in new zealand, happy free and grateful. to the USA for saving our arse during ww11 ,and if any of you guys are out there, a big thanks. now gitmo!
    We expect from the usa,the leaders of the free world, the absolute highest standards in human rights.
    your own consitution is an excellent example of this. Give these people the same rights as you would one
    of your own.