Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama signs executive order to close Guantanamo within a year

President Obama has ordered that Guantanamo prison be closed within one year.

This does leave unanswered questions about how detainees will be tried. It is also true that one of the detainees who was released, Said al-Shiri, is suspected in the bombing of the US embassy in Yemen last September. The US does need to safeguard itself. While I believe that detainees should either be tried or released immediately, there is no denying that some of these people are very, very dangerous people.

That said, in the long run, the US does itself more damage to detain them unjustly, without regard to human rights and without actual charges. The conservatives who would have the US secretly imprison and torture - yes, I said torture - these people are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the damage that this has done to the United States' international standing. It would be better to release even the al-Queda members and then to guard against their attacks.

Genesis 18:32
Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’

Here, God is proposing to annihilate Sodom (i.e. to commit genocide for their alleged evildoings). Lot bargains with God, starting by asking if 50 righteous people are found in the city, will God reconsider? God agrees. In fact, God allows Lot to talk Him/Her down to 10. To follow Genesis 18, the US should err heavily on the side of releasing detainees.

A number of writers discuss the detainee situation in an editorial page, with one writer calling for the creation of a national security court to be held on military bases. Neither the military system nor the civilian criminal justice system are appropriate for handling actual terrorists, who are paramilitary. That's fine with me. But the US cannot continue to hold people without trial. At this point, the US has to release immediately all detainees it cannot show sufficient evidence against. That evidence must be reviewed and challenged. If there is evidence to prosecute, the prosecutions can be done in a hybrid national security court system. But again, unjustly holding the Guantanamo detainees any longer is a stain on the country's record. Neither God nor history will judge this kindly if it continues.

1 comment:

coffee said...

Looks to me like Barack is off to a great start, on track to keep his word and restore some international credibility for the US