No mo’ Gitmo?

President Bush, at a US-EU summit in Vienna, told his European counterparts that his administration plans to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp, apparently confirming reports from European papers three months ago:

Speaking to journalists following the talks at the EU-US summit in Vienna on Wednesday (21 June), Mr Bush confirmed he shared a “desire” with his European counterparts for getting rid of the controversial detention centre in Cuba.

“I’d like to end Guantanamo. I’d like it to be over with,” he said, adding that the US authorities are planning to send some of over 400 inmates currently held there back to their home countries, while others should be tried by the US courts because they were “cold-blooded killers.”

“They will murder somebody if they’re let out on the street… And yet, we believe there ought to be a way forward in a court of law, and I’m waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the proper venue in which these people can be tried.”

I remain unconvinced that the intelligence collected from the inmates at Gitmo (and other more shadowy places where WoT suspects are being detained and interrogated) outweighs the substantial damage that these detentions have had on our global reputation. More generally, I’ll believe that Gitmo is being shut down when I see it happen–which, given the proviso that the administration is waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, probably won’t be any time soon.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Middle East, Terrorism, , ,
Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.

Comments

  1. Steven Plunk says:

    Our global reputation doesn’t necessarily save lives while the intel gathered at Gitmo almost certainly has done that. If nothing else merely locking these guys up has saved lives.

    I don’t understand this fixation with world opinion and our reputation. Even when we do good we are smeared by other countries, if a new recruit messes up the press blames the President. We can’t win with certain people so why not just do right by our own people.

    I’ll let the experts at Gitmo tell me if it’s worth keeping around. The actions they take in closing it or keeping it open is how they will tell me.

    This a new warfare that requires new thinking and sometimes rethinking. Just because we change directions doesn’t mean the best possible choice was made at the time it was made. Too many people see adaptability as admission of being mistaken.

  2. Allan says:

    Purely Devil’s Advocate but, you wrote:

    I remain unconvinced that the intelligence collected from the inmates at Gitmo (and other more shadowy places where WoT suspects are being detained and interrogated) outweighs the substantial damage that these detentions have had on our global reputation.

    Our global reputation was never higher than 9/12/2001. Want to go back to that day?

    We had the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace playing the Star-Spangled Banner. The French loved us. Nous suit tous le Americains or something like that. (I haven’t exactly used my high school French in a while.)

    In short, on 9/12, we had a great reputation, but a poor prognosis. The stock market had tanked, the emerging recession was sure to deepen. We had not yet tested our troops against the jihadi menace.

    Yes, we had a great reputation, but we looked (and felt) very weak- Bin Laden’s “paper tiger” to a tee.

    Now we’re not popular anymore. Why? We showed our strength, and the noble way in which it was applied leaves some of those who would be our friends embarassed, and our enemies (rightly) in mortal dread.

    So taking action on the basis of our global reputation is basically John Kerry’s “global test”.

    Pass.

    However, Gitmo should be shut down- those medium and small fry who have been fully interrogated should be tried wherever our legal system deems appropriate.

    KSM, Abu Zubaidah, etc. can rot.

  3. McGehee says:

    Our global reputation doesn�t necessarily save lives…

    It bugs me that this even has to be pointed out to people.

  4. ken says:

    By their words and actions the conservatives in the Bush administration and their apologists have damaged America. By using lies, warfare and torture they have turned away those who were once our friends and emboldened those who were all ways our enemies.

    No wonder, as we find out now, that the CIA assessment was that OBL released his election eve video in order to help re-elect Bush.

    Redemption will come only when we turn from evil and bring Bush and his accomplices to justice for their crimes against humanity.

  5. Bhoe says:

    President Bush, at a US-EU summit in Vienna, told his European counterparts that his administration plans to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp, apparently confirming reports from European papers three months ago:

    Bush has no spine. He should either tell the Europeans to go to hell or he should shut Gitmo down immediately.

    This whole, “I gotta wait for the Supreme COurt” is simply BS. He could shut the place down immediately, process prisoners there as POWs, and prosecute those who are an actual threat.

    It is important to point out that he has already released nearly 100 prisoners from there AFTER he said that they were wild, violent terrorists.

    Either he was lying to begin with, or he doesn’t have the spine to prosecute them.

    I would think it is the latter–his shameful appearance in Iraq last week was indicative when he enthusiastically endorsed a plan to let free insurgents in Iraq who had been caught attacking US troops.

  6. Anderson says:

    Our global reputation doesnâ??t necessarily save lives while the intel gathered at Gitmo almost certainly has done that. If nothing else merely locking these guys up has saved lives.

    Shorter version: “I am utterly clueless about Gitmo, and can’t be bothered by the fact that many, if not most, of the detainees haven’t been charged and may not be guilty of anything.”

    Okay, not that much shorter, but much more cogent.

  7. ken,

    Your rantings don’t help matters. In fact, they’re enough to turn off people that might be sympathetic to your conclusions (e.g., close Gitmo).

    You’re doing more harm than good.

  8. Where in that post did I say that I thought our global reputation saved lives? Y’all have some sort of reading comprehension disorder. (I’m not going to play the game of “lives have infinite value compared to anything else,” which is one you’re playing here and war opponents have played since 9/11.)

    Show me tangible evidence that Gitmo-obtained evidence has actually had some value in counterterrorism and I might alter my assessment. But for now it gets the association in my mind with the half-wits at Abu Ghraib who were getting their jollies off (and not getting any worthwhile intelligence, I might add) abusing prisoners.

  9. ken says:

    Robert, I am sure you are right in that the truth does hurt those who thrive in the shadow of deceit.

    Naturally, those who embrace lies, warfare, and torture will avoid adding their voice to the just cause of closing Gitmo and to the cause of justice for war crimes. It has always been thus and we can expect nothing better from these people.

    Purging the guilt for these atrocities from the American psyche however will come through punishing the perpetrators as war criminals.

  10. Allan says:

    Chris, you’re out of your depth it seems:

    Show me tangible evidence that Gitmo-obtained evidence has actually had some value in counterterrorism and I might alter my assessment. But for now it gets the association in my mind with the half-wits at Abu Ghraib who were getting their jollies off (and not getting any worthwhile intelligence, I might add) abusing prisoners.

    Please point out where our “global reputation” has prevented other nations from helping us in the fight against jihadism.

    This alleged glorious global reputation of the United States seems to be rather worthless in practice.

    I have yet to see a nation making a decision in the WoT that was against the United States and not in its own interest.

    At minimum, the 400 Gitmo Goons haven’t hurt anyone since their incarceration. Of the released Gitmo vacationers, several showed up later in Afghanistan and were killed in combat.

    Simply releasing the terrorists to “end our shame'”won’t make the United States safer or build our “global reputation”. Without proper punishment, the terrorists will assess a furlough as weakness.

    If the Gitmo 400 are simply released, Al-Qaeda will be right.

    As for Abu Ghraib, those bad actors were charged and punished. I know of no charges against a Gitmo guard.

    Again, we see more outrage resulting from “panties on the heads of terrorists” than the actual torture, murder, and desecration of Americans.

  11. If all that happened at Abu Ghraib was “panties on the heads of terrorists,” nobody would have needed to be court martialed.

    Reality is that our reputation is leading to the dwindling of the coalition in Iraq (and undermining our efforts vis-a-vis other rogue states). Both Spain and Italy elected leftist governments that promised to withdraw from Iraq by very narrow margins–if even 1% of voters in those countries had been swayed the other way, we’d have them still on board.

    Sure, a lot of it is due to the anti-war nutbars in the U.S. and human weathervanes like John Kerry, but the “sadistic jingoist bloodthirsty warmonger” image associated with the administration overseas isn’t exactly helped by Lynndie England and her pals at Abu Ghraib–and the not unreasonable belief that similar things have happened at Gitmo and elsewhere.

  12. Allan says:

    Italy? Spain? Not to sound ungrateful, but what did they really do for the Coalition anyway?

    Spain withdrew (4/18/04) before Abu Ghraib was hyped (4/30/04), anyway.

    Chasing global approval ratings is a waste of valuable time.

    Substance, not symbolism. We’re doing the right thing and we’re doing the thing right, in Iraq. (Obviously not 100% of the time, but reasonably close…)

    I still find it amazing that you hardly hear a peep in the media about AQ in Iraq’s torture, murder, and desecration of US captive soldiers. Sure, you hear about their deaths, but not what slimeballs the terrorists are. Lyndie England should be so lucky.

    I guess it takes naked pyramids and grinning goobers with thumbs up to catch CBS’s eye.

  13. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Ken, the victims of torture often show signs of such treatment. For instance, the two GIs that were tortured and kill by those animals in Iraq, you know, the freedom fighters, they left signs of the torture. Show me the bodies of those tortured land killed at Gitmo. It is torture to have to read the lies that spew from you and your ilk. You abuse your freedom. I hope you lose it.

  14. ICallMasICM says:

    What closing Gitmo will do for America’s status with the international terror symp community – less than 0. They’ll blame the US if detainees are releases to their home countries and incarcerated and they’ll blame the US if any of the detainees are tried in the US. They’ll be happy if like many of the other released terrorists they come back to kill more Americans.