Saturday, January 29, 2022

Ted Rall: Clean Our Mess: Release Guantanamo Detainees in the US, Close the Camp

 Parents teach their children: You make a mess, you clean it up.

    Twenty years ago, the United States government transformed its naval base at Guantanamo Bay into a legal, moral and foreign-policy disaster. It's time for President Joe Biden to fulfill his promise to complete the task his predecessors didn't have the wisdom or desire to do: close America's gulag.

    Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Gitmo. The Pentagon has cleared 18 for release. Yet they will remain captive until the U.S. finds a country willing to accept them and offers assurances that they'll be surveilled to ensure they don't present a threat to U.S. interests and allies. When possible, former detainees are sent home. Others are either denied the right of return by their home countries or would face torture or execution for domestic political reasons.

    Kidnapped, tortured and held in isolation without visits from friends or family, Gitmo victims have never been charged with a crime and in many cases were innocent of anti-American activities. After they've been cleared for release, they enter a Kafkaesque nightmare; they've convinced their interrogators that they shouldn't be there yet remain behind bars at a cost to taxpayers of $13 million a year each.

    Three detainees were cleared more than a decade ago yet remain at Guantanamo. Six others should have been released early last year. "If I had to make a bet on what's happening, this is an example of the Biden administration, distracted by the pandemic and the economy, not paying any attention to actually making transfers happen," said Shayana Kadidal, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents Sufyian Barhoumi of Algeria. He was cleared six years ago.

    The grand fallacy at the heart of this pseudo-legal purgatory is the assumption that ex-Gitmo detainees must go somewhere, anywhere, but the United States. Why, if like Thomas Wolfe, they can't go home again, shouldn't they be resettled here?

    The detainees are part of a mess that we created. Providing them with a home and whatever else they need to lead productive lives -- education, job training, psychological treatment -- is the least we can do to make amends for the cruelty and injustice they've endured.

    Set aside the psychic smear of the national trauma Americans suffered after 9/11, and it becomes clear that under U.S. law and legal culture, these men are as "innocent until proven guilty" as it is possible to be. They were never indicted, much less convicted, of anything, yet they've languished under miserable conditions for years. The Defense Department has determined that they don't present any threat. These men should be treated the same as a U.S. citizen wrongly convicted for a crime he didn't commit; they should receive financial compensation for their years of false imprisonment and ample resources to help them settle wherever they want to go.

    Might a former Gitmo prisoner, radicalized and shattered by his experience, commit a violent crime or an act of terrorism on U.S. soil after being released? It's possible. A dozen former detainees returned to Afghanistan and fought against U.S. occupation forces.

    Yet if we have integrity, that's a chance we have to take. We release innocent men and women from prison despite the possibility that years of incarceration have hardened them, exposed them to fellow criminals and may have left them with hatred and resentment of the society that wrongfully convicted them. We don't try to foist off innocent ex-convicts on some other country on the grounds that they are too damaged to live here. There are, moreover, means of mitigating the risk that a former detainee might pose a danger to Americans: validating their experience by issuing them a public formal apology, ideally by the president himself on national television, prosecuting their military and CIA torturers and allowing victims to testify against them, work permits, entry visas for family members, financial compensation and, of course, surveillance by local authorities.

    These moves would also boost our international reputation.

    The Bush administration relied on the fiction that Guantanamo was a netherworld under U.S. control yet not subject to U.S. legal protections such as the right to a speedy and fair trial, or representation by an attorney, when it chose this imperialist relic of the Spanish-American War to warehouse and torture hundreds of Muslim men whose involvement in jihad ranged from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's role in planning the 9/11 attacks to Osama bin Laden's chauffeur to regional opponents of the regime in Yemen to nothing whatsoever. In 2008, however, the Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that Guantanamo inmates were in fact entitled to constitutional protections including the right to file a writ of habeas corpus in American courts. Legally, therefore, they're already in the United States.

    Congress passed a law preventing the use of taxpayer money to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States. But (SET ITAL) they're already here, (END ITAL) so there's no transfer. Besides, the law is almost certainly an unconstitutional violation of the president's prerogative as commander in chief. But why wait for a lengthy court challenge? We're talking about just over three dozen men. Financing the airfare from Cuba to the lower 48 states could be taken care of by a GoFundMe. Count me in.

    Notice, I did say over three dozen. That's because all 39 Guantanamo victims are legally innocent under American law, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. None of them have ever faced trial in an actual civilian courtroom and never will because their testimony was extracted under duress. KSM, for example, was infamously waterboarded 182 times. If the rule of law and due process mean anything, all 39 prisoners -- not just those who have been cleared to leave -- should not be transferred to maximum-security prisons on the American mainland, as liberals generally suggest. They should all be released in the United States and given every possible resource to live out their lives peacefully and successfully.

    Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the weekly DMZ America podcast with conservative fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.



Anonymous said...

Methinks this guy has to be a great cartoonist, as he is particularly good at coloring within the lines he draws. However, if the lines were required to contain logic, reason or common sense in the ink, he would be just another burger flipper looking for his next minimum wage job and posting here anonymously with the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I thought BO and Biden closed it? You mean they lied about that?

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true liberal. No worries I mean they can’t see their families? How awful! I have a better option. In fact all of those caught while in the process of planning or committing crimes that endanger the public safety( including the murderers locked up in America prisons should be given a one way boat ride to the middle of the pacific at which time the boat should be sunk!!! Why should Americans have to pay for the comfort and keep of those who can’t be redeemed!

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS