We Must Shut Down Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility

This is why I so appreciate the two-term presidency of Barack Obama.  Today he repeated his call for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  It was not the first time he made the case or offered ideas on how to achieve it.  To underscore his resolve Obama delivered to Congress a plan to do what is in the best interest of our values, international affairs, and law.

Obama has always grasped the reasons Gitmo is so dreadfully wrong and why there needs to a 180 degree course correction.  The fact that small-minded partisan politics has played a key role as to why this facility remains open should alarm all.

Today’s blueprint comes seven years after Obama made an Oval Office vow to permanently shutter the prison for enemy combatants.  Just days after the election I continued my call to close Gitmo.  That we are now in 2016 and still grappling with this matter underscores the problems congress has made for this nation.

I think it essential that Guantanamo Bay be closed.  This was one of the most dreadful examples of presidential over-reach by George Bush, and ranks among the worst in modern history.  Guantanamo Bay cast a black eye on America that was seen and understood by all around the world……As many have noted this place is a gift that keeps on giving to those who wish to use it as recruiting tool among radical elements in the Middle East.  It has done us no good, and only brought shame.

It has been noted that the Obama team is already looking to move most, if not all, of the prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay.  If the people at the base are not charged with something they should be released.  It they are charged, then let the U.S. court system handle the matter.  There might be a few who are in fact ‘high-level’ detainees, and some conservatives argue they need to be dealt with through the special court designed by the Bush Administration for this propose.  I am highly dubious of this specially crafted court, and the mission it holds.  I want to see more accountability and openness with this military tribunal process.  And I think the world expects the same.

Republicans will once again place partisanship above the best needs of the nation.  We can almost pen the objections from Republicans, after all, we have heard it all before.  What those conservatives fail to understand, however, is that by closing Gitmo we could move past the most troubling era with our wartime behavior which resulted in this nation being painted in a most ugly color.

Guantanamo continues to be a source of world-wide disgust that proves to be a recruitment tool for those who use terrorism as a weapon.  Now it is time , once again, to see if GOP politics as usual can cease long enough to do what is in the best interest of the country.

Republican Senate Confirmation Fight Has Anti-Gay Stench

When it comes to defining dysfunctional in the Webster dictionary perhaps instead of using words it might be best to just post a picture of congress to allow for a meaning to be better understood.

It needs to be noted following a smooth and overall positive hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Eric Fanning’s confirmation to be the next Army secretary still is not guaranteed.  One might think this is impossible given the level of angst in the world and the need for such a position to be filled.

But due to Senator Roberts making a stink over discovering (as if it were a secret) that Fort Leavenworth is being reviewed as a potential site for relocating prisoners if the facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is closed the Fanning nomination is on hold.

There is also the little other item that comes into the mix fro folks like Roberts.

Fanning is an openly gay man.

Now the Republicans can spin and weave and duck all they want about this matter of Fanning’s sexuality and explain it anyway they desire.  But we know how conservatives operate.

Recall that we are also asked to believe that the first African-American president was only targeted by conservatives because he is a liberal.

It is to the credit of the senate that no one asked about Fanning’s sexuality during the confirmation hearing.  But I also add that no senator asked about issues that do matter when it comes to transgender military service, or the all important issue regarding keeping in place the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

What motivates members of congress to take one position or another is often very hard to state in a concise fashion.  But I find it very suspicious that the long simmering question over the future of Gitmo is now so central to Roberts that he would delay the next army secretary from undertaking the job that now needs doing.

Something tells me there is a dose of homophobia that makes more of a play to this story than what the headlines wish us to believe.

President Obama Poised To Take (Constitutional) Action To Close Gitmo

From the heady campaign of Election 2008 to this stormy day where gray clouds cover the sky and blustery winds pound the Madison isthmus one thing has been clear to me.  The detention facility at  Guantánamo Bay, Cuba must be closed.    Period.

Over the past weeks reports of movement again being made within the Obama Administration has allowed for those of us who firmly believe this place must be closed down to have renewed hope.

Over the years there were attempts made by the White House to close Gitmo but each time the effort was thwarted by short-sighted Republicans or timid Democrats.   This time there seems a more determined effort by Obama to close down this stain on our nation with perhaps if needed, a constitutional move.

It appears from the reports that a number of the 112 detainees –perhaps about half of them–would be placed in American prisons.  The remaining would be sent to other countries.  In this country it is likely that a military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a military brig in South Carolina are places where some detainees would be held.

But make no mistake about this–we must not shut down Gitmo only to restart a horrible situation at some new venue.  At the end of the day we must obviously close down Gitmo, a place that has long been a recruiting tool by those who seek to do us harm.  But we also must not allow people to be held indefinably without legal recourse.  That is a wrong that must not be allowed to continue no matter where these people are held.

There seems to be–from the reporting I read–that Obama’s plan will come to light soon.

And if there is the usual conservative blow-back over this plan from the same people who thinks China is somehow stationing itself in Syria–(and not one single candidate on the debate stage had the ability to counter that crazy remark)–then Obama has a fallback position.

And might I add the fallback plan is a much stronger place to act.

Article II of the Constitution.

As this idea has gained steam The Washington Post printed a column putting the pieces together for such a move.

The Constitution assigns Congress the important power to “declare war.” But Article II designates the president as “Commander in Chief” of the military. Recognizing that the president needs flexibility to select among tactical options in the conduct of war, the Framers explicitly rejected giving Congress the power to “make war,” rather than declare war. As Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers, “Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand.”

Thus the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has the exclusive authority to make tactical military decisions. Congress can declare war but cannot direct the conduct of military campaigns. It can pass generally applicable military regulations but cannot direct the military’s response to contingent developments. It can authorize detentions and military tribunals and broadly regulate the treatment of prisoners of war, but it cannot direct specific facilities in which specific detainees must be held and tried. Yet that is precisely what Congress has attempted.

For those conservatives who can not find their moral or legal compass let me put this matter in financial terms so they can better understand.  Nothing matters more to them than money, in most cases, so here goes.

Gitmo is simply put the world’s most expensive prison. The annual cost per Guantanamo detainee now stands at $3,345,061. The average annual cost to maintain a prisoner in the most expensive supermax facility in the United States is estimated to be $78,000 per year.

It will be interesting again to see how far removed conservatives can land when it comes to doing what every sane person knows must be done regarding this matter.

Why Guantanamo Must Be Closed

From  Retired Major General Michael Lehnert, USMC, Joint Task Force 160, charged with constructing Guantanamo.

History continues to judge our decisions—decisions made when we were angry and frightened. Who we are as a nation cannot be separated from what we do. It is hard to overstate how damaging the continued existence of the detention facility at Guantanamo has been. Repressive governments use it to deflect criticism of their own policies by charging hypocrisy. Violent extremists use it as a recruiting tool. It is a symbol for many around the world of torture, injustice, and illegitimacy. 

I am not alone in my opinion. More than 50 retired generals and admirals have come forward saying Guantanamo should be closed. Statesmen, top national security officials, and public servants from across the political spectrum such as Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, have said Guantanamo should be closed. President George W. Bush wanted to close the facility, and on his second day in office President Barack Obama signed an executive order committing his administration to closing Guantanamo.

As if the moral, legal, and strategic reasons to close Guantanamo weren’t sufficient, it is by most comparisons the world’s most expensive prison. The annual cost per Guantanamo detainee now stands at $3,345,061. The average annual cost to maintain a prisoner in the most expensive supermax facility in the United States is estimated to be $78,000 per year.

Closing Guantanamo is about reestablishing who we are as a nation. Terrorists caused us to turn away from the fundamental values that make this country exceptional. It’s time to reaffirm what America stands for: that we are still the shining city on the hill, and that we stand for the rule of law and respect for human rights. The goal of terrorists is to change us, to change what we say we stand for, and to make us live in fear. As long as Guantanamo exists, terrorists can legitimately say that they have accomplished their objectives. It is time for America to stop living in fear and to defeat terrorism with our most powerful weapon: American values. It is time to close Guantanamo.

Guantanamo Bay Prison Remains A Stain On United States

One of the first goals that President Obama worked on when becoming the leader of this nation was to shutter the doors of Guantanamo Bay prison.  As he enters the final two years of his presidency the work continues to achieve that need, and for the very same reasons.  That we are still mucking around in this mess is due to spineless members of congress from both parties who have placed partisanship over national needs.

Over the years it has been most sad to witness the lack of understanding among members of congress to the fact that Gitmo is a recruiting tool.  To witness the fear-baiting about placing prisoners on U.S. soil is about the lamest argument that I have heard since…well…’there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

In November 2008 I wrote the following.

I think it essential that Guantanamo Bay be closed.  This was one of the most dreadful examples of presidential over-reach by George Bush, and ranks among the worst in modern history.  Guantanamo Bay cast a black eye on America that was seen and understood by all around the world.   The base holds roughly 260 prisoners, and there needs to be a process put in place that will allow the closure of this base.  As many have noted this place is a gift that keeps on giving to those who wish to use it as recruiting tool among radical elements in the Middle East.  It has done us no good, and only brought shame.

Every word still resonates.  More and more people are stepping in and making the case as to why international norms need to be applied to this situation.  The latest was this weekend when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, told host Chris Wallace on  “Fox News Sunday” the nation should close Guantanamo Bay prison

“I’ve been in the group that believes it’s in our national interest to close Guantanamo,” he said. “It does create a psychological scar on our national values. Whether it should or not, it does.” 

We all recognize America’s reputation in the world is very important for a wide variety of reasons.  We agree that a continuation of nurturing respect for American leadership around the world serves us well.   Therefore closing Guantanamo is essential as this place has rightfully earned us the scorn and anger from the world community.  If we keep it open, we deserve the outcome.

President Obama To Make New Push To Close Gitmo

I have made it clear from the start when Gitmo was created that is was a wrong policy to implement.    I have repeated that there is a need to close Gitmo, and do so as soon as possible.  President Obama has understood that from the start along with the world community.  While the president made attempts to close Gitmo members of congress played politics and failed at what is logically the best thing to do.  For all the words from congress they fail to grasp in addition to international shame and legal issues there is the moral wrong that this place has brushed our nation with by its very construction.  The rule of law, and the higher standards we state as our nation’s underpinning, must again guide us.

Gitmo was one of the most dreadful examples of presidential over-reach by President George Bush, and ranks among the worst in modern history.  Guantanamo Bay cast a black eye on America and I have noted often on this blog is a gift that keeps on giving to those who wish to use it as a recruiting tool among radical elements in the Middle East.  It has done us no good, and only brought shame.

As such President Obama will–if reports are correct–make another move to close Gitmo.

The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said.

Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S.

The discussions underscore the president’s determination to follow through on an early campaign promise before he leaves the White House, officials said, despite the formidable domestic and international obstacles in the way.

Administration officials say Mr. Obama strongly prefers a legislative solution over going around Congress. At the same time, a senior administration official said Mr. Obama is “unwavering in his commitment” to closing the prison—which currently has 149 inmates detained in connection with the nation’s post-9/11 war on terrorism—and wants to have all potential options available on an issue he sees as part of his legacy.

Guantanamo 9/11 Trials And Due Process Clash


Over and over a few themes emerge on this blog.  One of them is “process matters”.  From how legislation passes in congress, to how Governor Walker plays with policy, to this case which shows the international community how we handle legal affairs the process to everything has to be fair and open.

I only ask my readers to take a few minutes and watch this 60 Minutes report on Guantanamo detainees and the tortured process that the United States government is using to try them for the 9/11 attacks.  No one is saying these men were not involved in 9/11 or that they were not intent on harming this county or its citizens.

But that is not the point.

There needs to be a fair process that plays out for these defendants or the very principles that we so proudly claim to be ‘American’ does not count for anything.

I have long argued that Guantanamo should be closed and these trials should have taken place in the United States.

Watch this and tell me how proud you are of the system that operates in your name.


Guantanamo Must Close, Military Tribunals Offensive To American Ideals

There is no way that anyone in America, be they Democrat or Republican, can feel any sense of pride about the news concerning the decision to try Sheikh Mohammed in front of a military tribunal as opposed to a civilian court.

No one can be proud that many Democrats grew timid in the face of attempts by Republicans to willfully mislead the nation over the civilian court route for terror suspects.  At the end of the day I am as dismayed with the Democrats for not standing on fact and principle, as I am over the short-sighted shenanigans from the Republicans.

One of the challenges that faced President Obama at the outset of his administration was how to close Guantanamo and stop the military trials that tipped the democratic ideals of justice on its head.

I have no doubt that history will correctly judge President Bush who created the legal and international fiasco that is Guantanamo with the harshness that he so richly deserves.  But now there must be those Democrats in Congress who allowed themselves to be used by the GOP who also need to face the pages of history.

Military commissions that hand out justice is a wretched way to conduct business and it richly deserve the wrath of the international community.  Meanwhile federal courts have sentenced hundreds of terrorists in an effective and legal fashion that does not undermine our ideals.

The facts speak to that very clearly.

Since 9/11 there have been 6 convictions in military tribunals, while over 400 hundred convictions have occurred for terrorist suspects in civilian courts.  Did America implode from the hundreds that were tried and convicted and I just missed the headlines?  Or are Republicans doing what they do best?

Which is annoy the hell out of reason, and work overtime to twist and distort the facts.

The larger  ideals upon which our nation was formed seems to mean less and less as time goes by.  To a frightening degree this is happening more and more among conservatives who one would think might better understand the reason legal process matters in a democracy.  The problem is that too many red-meat Republicans control the party and thoughtful, educated discourse is often never engaged in anymore.

Conservatives have thrown up false notions about how anti-terrorism goals would be undermined if Guantanamo were to be closed, or how all would be in peril if civilian courts were allowed to render justice.  That just distorts the truth, and allows for terrorist elements to use Guantanamo against America.

I am embarrassed by Guantanamo, and also by the military tribunals that continue to occur there.

Caffeinated Politics supported the idea of the federal government buying a prison in Illinois for the express purpose of housing the remaining detainees at Guantanamo.  It made sense in 2009, when the idea was much in discussion, and holds even more merit now.

All that is required now are the intelligent and forward thinking members of Congress to separate themselves from the rest and make it happen.

President Obama is ready to sign such a bill.

The world community is ready to make it happen.

History will judge it a brighter moment for American foreign policy.