Monday, November 4, 2013

AMERICA’S NUMBER ONE FESTERING SORE, and remains Gitmo…more precisely the flaunting of all our traditional rights and liberties, and the unreasonable delay in ending it.

Over 100 men have been jailed there for 12 years, in a military prison, WITHOUT being charged with a crime. Five of them, labeled the 9/11 suspects, including the alleged mastermind, are supposed to have plotted and carried out various aspects of the plan that killed 2800 people.

The mastermind is supposed to have confessed. To whom did he confess, the CIA?  And was this before or after he was “water boarded” 3 times a day for a solid month?  Water boarding was deemed legal by the Bush administration and illegal by the Obama administration. (Strange how lawyers can issue such differing opinions depending on who is asking for them!)

Most of these men were captured by various U-S military units, or allied units, and sent to Guantanamo, being declared “enemy combatants” by President Bush…a strange, little used term… which has the practical effect of denying them rights they would otherwise have under the Geneva convention…or our laws.

Their lawyers cannot discuss whether they were tortured or not, under a strange court ruling..further denying them their rights. And contrary to all U-S judicial standards, the CIA or other government agencies listens in on their private conversations with their attorneys. (Where is our Bar association to protest all these violations of our judicial canons?)

I was reminded of much of this by a new, updated report on “Sixty Minutes” Sunday, still the best investigative program broadcast. But I was also reminded how easy it is for any of us to assume..hey, the Army arrested them in Afghanistan (or Iraq or…); they were fighting against us; the CIA says they took part in planning 9/11, or the USS Cole attack, or…so they MUST be guilty.

Even so astute a reporter as Leslie Stahl has swallowed this line. I am probably the last blogger around who still believes in the presumption of innocence, but her questions were full of..”Now these are really bad guys….our government said they took part in 9/11 which killed all those people…” neatly forgetting that is what a trial is supposed to prove---or disprove.

Gitmo and our holding of these people without even filing charges against them is a blot on America’s human rights record that will take years to remove. Our government should file charges, take these people to trial..or let them go. (I am aware there are some real problems in where they might go; some nations would kill them; some of their home nations refuse to take them back—but surely after 12 years some place can be found. Why not Kirabati?) Which, incidentally would also lessen the burden on U-S taxpayers.

I'm just sayin'...

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