For weeks now, Republicans have been talking about how we can't bring Guantanamo detainees to the US as if we'd be bringing them in for a picnic. They have pretended that bringing them to the US is the same thing as releasing them out in the middle of Kansas or Oklahoma (or right by Ground Zero as the dumbass Peter King suggested). We've talked about this on our show from time to time to mock them mercilessly, but I didn't bother writing about it because who would be dumb enough to believe this inane talking point? Well, now we have our answer. Almost the entire Senate.
They just voted 90-6 to say that the Obama administration cannot have the funds they need to close Gitmo and bring the detainees for trial here in the US. Rep. King was outraged at the idea that the people who carried out 9/11 would be tried near Ground Zero. Where the hell else would they be tried? That's where the crime happened. That's how our system works. Where are we supposed to try them - on Mars?
Well, the Bush administration came up with the novel idea of turning our military base at Guantanamo Bay into a legal version of Mars. And since it's been ongoing for almost eight years now, everybody seems to find that a credible solution. But that's crazy. The United States cannot create a legal black hole where we put anyone we don't like and hold them there indefinitely. That was the whole problem with the Bush administration and Gitmo in the first place.
Imagine if another country took our soldiers and held them on an island and said to us, "Don't worry, no laws apply there, so we can legally do whatever we like to your guys and keep them there forever." Would we be assuaged by that nonsensical and clearly illegal explanation? Of course not. That's why we were going to get rid of Gitmo. Anyone remember any of this? I thought we had an election about this.
So, let's get to the main and most obvious point here - bringing detainees to America does not mean we release them in America. The people who planned and carried out the first World Trade Center bombing are now in the United States! Everyone, panic! Oh no, that's right, they're locked up in a Supermax prison in Colorado, from which they will never emerge. Problem solved. Why is that so hard to understand?
FBI Director Robert Mueller testified today in Congress that if they are even held in a prison in the US, they could radicalize the other prisoners. Here are some of the other prisoners at the Supermax in Colorado - the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, World Trade Center bombers Ramzi Yousef and the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph. Who are the Gitmo detainees going to radicalize, the Unabomber?
This is absurd. If we're going to try people for crimes they have committed against the United States, of course we have to try them in the United States. We have plenty of prisons that are completely secure and that they have absolutely no chance of breaking out of and that they can spend the rest of their lives in.
Under the breakout theory (another one probably inspired by a Fox network show, Prison Break this time - do these idiots get their ideas from anywhere else?), couldn't they break out of Gitmo, get on a raft, come to the Florida and then spread like a virus through the US (at which point, you'd have to get Jack Bauer to go collect them all). Maybe we should move them further away from the mainland. Maybe we should try them in the Arctic Circle?! If they thought the treatment at Gitmo was bad, wait till they get a load of Santa and his reindeer games!
So, the final concern is if they're found not guilty and have to be released. Has no one considered that at that point we would know that they are not guilty? Is that not a relevant consideration to anyone? I get that people are worried they are going to get off on a technicality or something inane like that (yeah, they're going to let Khalid Sheikh Mohammed slide because someone filled out the wrong paper work), but what about the people we actually imprisoned wrongly? Like the Uighurs, for example.
I don't want anyone to think I'm biased because my last name is Uygur (it's the Turkish spelling of Uighur) because what I'm actually biased by is the fact that they are not fucking guilty. We've been holding these guys who we know did not plan any attacks against us for six years now.
First of all, can anyone do diplomacy anymore? Here's how you solve this supposedly unsolvable problem. Of course, you don't return them to China where they might be tortured or killed, as Newt Gingrich has suggested. I understand why it's politically untenable to release them here in the US. So, you broker a deal. Here's a country that might work with us - Turkey. You give them some trade concessions, so some rich Turks in the textile industry get a little richer and the government who gets paid by those guys take these Uighurs off our hands.
There are already plenty of Uygurs running around Turkey anyway, I know because they're my family (all kidding aside, the Uygurs in Turkey are not related to the Uighurs in China, they have just taken on the name as a sign of respect because the Uighur Turks have a long and proud history of emphasizing education and writing). Turkey is a moderate Muslim country and for the right price they're almost always ready to make a deal. Look, this is just a suggestion from a layman who doesn't know the intricacies of local politics in these countries. But there's no way there isn't some Central Asian Republic that can't take a couple of Uighurs for the right price. Let's go, call the banker, let's make a deal.
The case of the Uighurs also applies to anyone else who might be found not guilty, whether it's because they're actually innocent or because we somehow couldn't convict them. You don't have to release them in Wichita or Akron or Fifth Avenue. You can make diplomatic deals to send them to other willing countries. Will we have to sacrifice some things to get them out of the country even though we brought them here by detaining them in the first place? Yes, but that's the price you pay for your mistakes. Especially, if you're not willing to pay the political price of releasing them here.
The bottom line is we were supposed to bring these guys to justice. Instead we've done the exact opposite; we have taken them out of the justice system. The legal black hole we have left them in is obviously unacceptable. Bringing them to the US for trials is sensible, just and safe. So, let's get beyond these senseless talking points meant to scare the American voters (and Democratic politicians, who are far easier to scare). The minute Ted Kaczynski makes a run for it out of the Supermax in Colorado is the minute I'll agree that it's unsafe to bring the Gitmo detainees here. To paraphrase George Bush, don't denigrate our correctional officers. They know perfectly well how to keep people locked up in the US.
The Senate needs to stop giving into Republican fear mongering and recognize that it's about time that we brought the Gitmo detainees to justice here in the United States.