The Curran Comment

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Now what?

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The Executive Order to shut down Guantanamo Bay was the right thing to do. It will go a long way in separating Obama’s policies from the Bush Administrationand hopefully restore America’s standing in the world. I have long believed that the War on Terror must be won through discreet military action, but also through wining the hearts and minds of Islamic extremists. Without a cause to fight, extremism will always simmer to a non-issue. Any provocation of mistreatment only gives cause to violence. The closing of gitmo will serve to remove an issue that extremists can rally around. However, the issue is not as simple as shutting down the prison. The Obama Administration must choose very carefully what they will now do with the detainees.

Where there is not sufficient evidence to prosecute, the detainees must be freed. However, this is easier said than done. The main questions I ask are where will they go, and are the detainees still dangerous?

Obama has already begun a review to see which ones should be prosecuted and which should be sent to other countries. The remaining detainees that have committed crimes must be swiftly brought to justice.  If there are more than one charge against them, prosecute them quickly and then worry about the other charges later. This will help buy time to fully prosecute the individuals in question.

It is clear that the method of justice employed by Bush was a disgrace. He failed to uphold the laws that make America a role model for the rest of the world.   The unintended consequences of the Guantanamo debacle has made America less safe. A suspect with scant evidence against them could be held indefinitely. Also, there is the issue of a history of torture at Guantanamo. These detainees, when released, will no doubt harbour terrible feelings for the United States.  An individual that held little danger for the US, could now be a person so filled with hate that they have become dangerous to the US.  

With the prospect of freedom for some detainees very close, there is confusion as to where they will find this freedom. Many claim that they cannot return to their home countries for fear of torture or a poor human rights record.  I believe this should be the first option for detainees on the grounds that there may be legitimate reasons for the detainee to be tried in their home country. The US should see if there are legitimate reasons for the person to be put on trial in their home state. If there is a risk for arbitrary torture or imprisonment, the detainee should be sent to another country.

There have been a couple of instances where detainees have sought refuge in another country with mixed results. Albania took in 5 detainees and granted the men asylum. They are attempting to find work and make a living in that country. However, they must adapt to a country that speaks a different language and requires this language for work permits. It is unclear how these detainees will live a productive life in that country. There is also the possibility of the detainees finding a h0me in Europe or Canada. I would feel unsafe knowing that a former detainee was my next door neighbor. These detainees have certainly been stigmatized as the “worst of the worst” . But there is also the lingering question of why they were detained in the first place. Why would non-afghan nationals be roaming the “bucolic hills” of Tora Bora? Perhaps the Afgan Tourism Board doesn`t advertise over here….

The solution to the detainee problem resides in a pathway to freedom. Simply letting the detainees start anew in  another country poses too much danger to the population given the history of violence at Guantanamo. A system of rehabilitation with training and monitoring of activities (similar to a half-way house) is probably the only option that will serve to escape the horrors of Guantanamo, while reassuring local populations.

The number of years that gitmo detainees have languished in legal limbo has done harm to America’s reputation. It has also created a more dangerous detainee through torture. Obama has done the easy part in shutting down this horrendous operation, but `now what` is the more serious and difficult question.

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Written by currancomment

February 15, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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