Huckabee and Al Qaeda Oppose Guantánamo

The ACLU is encouraging people to wwear orange tomorrow in a show of support for closing down the detention facility at Guantánamo. I always find these things silly, even when I support the cause, but at least give the ACLU credit for picking a fashion statement that would stand out rather than the ridiculous “wear denim to support cause X” stunts that so many college protests employ.

Michelle Malkin wonders if various people will get on board what she considers a “moonbat” idea that will endanger the security of the country.

How about Mike Huckabee, who shares the ACLU’s position (and al Qaeda’s, for that matter) on shutting down the facility because of its “symbolism?”

She produces this video:

Essentially, Huckabee says he’s visited Gitmo, thinks it’s being run humanely, but that it serves as an easy object of enemy propaganda. Which, of course, it does.

By rounding up large numbers of people and hauling them off to Guantánamo and denying them any right to prove they’re not who we claim they are, we invariably lock up significant numbers of innocent bystanders. That, along with scandals like Abu Ghraib, give al Qaeda and other enemies ammunition with which to wage information warfare, breeding the next generation of terrorists.

I’m no Huckafan. But Huckabee’s position is not at all al Qaeda’s; he’s merely notingthe fact that Gitmo is a prominent part of their propaganda campaign. Huckabee wants to close it down to prevent damage to America’s cause; al Qaeda would love to see it remain open as a symbol of American injustice to Muslims.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    You don’t think al Qaeda doesn’t want Gitmo and all facilities like it to be shut down? Yes they use it for propaganda but they will always find propaganda material real or not. I’m sure they would like many of their comrades back than to have them detain.

    What are we going do with the combatants? Release them; send them to U.S., or somewhere else? Shutting down Gitmo will give them a victory and do nothing but weaken the security of this country. Closing the base will not increase our likability one bit.

    Huck is wrong on this one.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    By rounding up large numbers of people and hauling them off to Guantánamo and denying them any right to prove they’re not who we claim they are, we invariably lock up significant numbers of innocent bystanders.

    Additionally, offering bounties for Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan was a rather obvious error. My own take was, is, and has been that the Bush Administration erred in not following the letter of our commitments under the Geneva Conventions: the prisoners should immediately have received a status hearing.

    However, I’d be interested in hearing where people would like to imprison the detainees. They’re going to be kept somewhere. Stateside among the ordinary prison population? In some third country? I don’t think that will pass muster. Special camps? That’s what was done with legitimate WWII POW’s. I used to drive past one of the old camps regularly. Guantanamo doesn’t seem like too bad a solution.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    Unless you think we have never held a “legitimate terrorist” in Gitmo, then the answer of shutting it down has to be followed by the answer of what we are supposed to do with terrorists we capture. I would have more sympathy with the idea of shutting it down to minimize an avenue of enemy propaganda against us, but only if there is a reasonable alternative.

    By the way, if we are “denying them any right to prove they are not whom they claim they are” then why has anyone been released. Saying that we are not giving them the full judicial Habeas Corpus enjoyed by a US citizen is a true statement. Saying we give them no avenue to prove they are not a threat is not a true statement.

  4. Wayne says:

    Any country or group that does not adhere to the Geneva Conventions which doesn’t mean an infraction here or there but the group/country general policies, are not afforded protection by the Geneva Conventions. Therefore Geneva Conventions do not protect those at Gitmo.

    Now being a kind and generous country that we are, we do treat then humanely but don’t mistake generosity for obligation.

    Some of those released have been found fighting against us once again.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Dave/YAJ: I agree that we need to have a detention facility for those who pass some sort of muster and that Gitmo was as good a place as any. The problem, though, is that it’s now tainted, just like Abu Ghraib. Symbols might be for the symbol minded but they’re still powerful.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    JJ:

    The ACLU is encouraging people to wwear orange tomorrow in a show of support for closing down the detention facility at Guantánamo. I always find these things silly,

    Ditto. Protest usually is a way to keep people placid, by allowing them to think they are railing against injustice while they really do nothing.

    Wayne:

    You don’t think al Qaeda doesn’t want Gitmo and all facilities like it to be shut down?

    The question doesn’t matter. What matters is whether shutting down Guantanamo is the right thing to do. It is. Trying to base our decisions on what Al-Qaeda wants (either following what they want or opposing it) is allowing them to control us.

    YAJ:

    Unless you think we have never held a “legitimate terrorist” in Gitmo, then the answer of shutting it down has to be followed by the answer of what we are supposed to do with terrorists we capture. I would have more sympathy with the idea of shutting it down to minimize an avenue of enemy propaganda against us, but only if there is a reasonable alternative.

    Of course there is a reasonable alternative. Terrorism is a crime. Always has been. We certainly have a system for the handling of criminals.

    Wayne again:

    Any country or group that does not adhere to the Geneva Conventions which doesn’t mean an infraction here or there but the group/country general policies, are not afforded protection by the Geneva Conventions.

    That’s not how the Geneva Conventions work.

  7. Scott_T says:

    Wayne, I think you are wrong on the Geneva Convention.

    Al Qaeda is not an organized army, doesn’t identify itself with unit/national symbols, etc

    So they can be treated spies/infiltrators/commandos/partisans and can be killed w/o trial.

    Just because we choose to, doesn’t mean we are required to give them a hearing. We, the USA, is just nice that way.

  8. John425 says:

    If we took fewer prisoners and killed more of the Al Qaeda goons, we’d have fewer problems at Gitmo.

    I think the Muslim world will respects us when we kill off the terrorists. Winning has that effect on people.

    Too bad Huckabee had a return ticket out of Gitmo.

  9. sam says:

    Too bad Huckabee had a return ticket out of Gitmo.

    Christians throwing Christians to the lions. Lovely.

  10. yetanotherjohn says:

    James,

    The question remains where. We want it out of the US or we have the issue of granting full US criminal rights to the inmates. We want it in a country that we are not likely to be asked to leave suddenly or even worse asked to leave and not allowed to take the prisoners without resorting to armed force against the host country. So Gitmo makes perfect sense. The only other place I can think of that would make similar sense would be Diego Garcia.

    Tlaloc,

    Think about your solution for a moment. We are going to put them in the general prison population? Given you seem to think the Geneva convention should apply, that would be against the Geneva convention. Of course a strict reading of the Geneva convention would allow a military tribunal to determine that they were a combatant who was improperly identified and we just shoot them. Perhaps you would prefer that to Gitmo. Please think about what you are proposing before making a proposal.

  11. Tlaloc says:

    I think the Muslim world will respects us when we kill off the terrorists. Winning has that effect on people.

    Afterall we all know how much the Israelis are loved in the middle ea-

    oh. Wait.

  12. Tlaloc says:

    Think about your solution for a moment. We are going to put them in the general prison population?

    We can choose to try them here, in which case yes (assuming general population means federal prison), or we can send them off to one of the established international courts.

    Given you seem to think the Geneva convention should apply, that would be against the Geneva convention.

    How so? These aren’t enemy soldiers. The only reason the geneva convention is an issue is because we insist on treating them as POWs. remove them from military custody and put them in a civilian court system and the geneva conventions are just fine.

    Of course a strict reading of the Geneva convention would allow a military tribunal to determine that they were a combatant who was improperly identified and we just shoot them.

    Well at least that’d be better than the current situation! At least there they get *some* kind of trial, rather than simply being detained for years at a time with absolutely no effort made to determine guilt or innocence.

    Now granted it wouldn’t be my choice, but it *would* be a step up from our current practice.

  13. Wayne says:

    Parts taken from the third convention.
    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

    Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

    http://www.genevaconventions.org/

    Read through the conventions and it basically says that a signatory of the convention is bound by it as long as the other parties either of a formal military or not abides by the conventions. Anyone that doesn’t abide by it the convention is not afforded the protections of the convention. For example, if I’m caught wearing civilian clothing and concealing my weapons to kill the enemy, I can be killed as a spy even though I am a member of the U.S. arm forces.

    Tlaloc
    I didn’t say we should or should not do anything simply because of the enemy desires. I simply pointing out that part of the article was wrong. Perhaps you should extrapolate how the conventions work.
    Scott
    Maybe I wasn’t articulate enough but I was trying to say what you said.
    Hopefully my grammar is not too bad but I can’t proof read right now since I got to go.

  14. Tlaloc says:

    Your initial statement was correct. My bad.

    Here you go too far:

    Read through the conventions and it basically says that a signatory of the convention is bound by it as long as the other parties either of a formal military or not abides by the conventions. Anyone that doesn’t abide by it the convention is not afforded the protections of the convention. For example, if I’m caught wearing civilian clothing and concealing my weapons to kill the enemy, I can be killed as a spy even though I am a member of the U.S. arm forces.

    If there is any doubt whether you are civilian you have to be treated as a civilian (Protocol I, Art. 50, Sec. 1). Civilians can not be executed without a trial.