Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba. The base there serves no purpose and never did serve a purpose -- other than military intimidation, bullying and posturing. But the prison at Guantanamo does serve a purpose. Obama's decision to close it is one of the dumbest things he's ever done. Return the base and make a deal with Cuba to lease the prison.
Back in January, I kept this issue within parenthesis, planning to return to it at some later date: "President Obama has already decided to eliminate the prison. (Whether this is a wise decision is open to debate, but I'll leave that issue for a future post.)" Well, the time has come to discuss it here -- I should have discussed it sooner. I never thought closing the terrorist prison at Guantanamo was a wise decision. And the matter is no longer open to debate. Even the Democrats now see that. Obama is due to give a speech tomorrow and hopefully he'll back down. If he doesn't he's a fool. (This is a Democrat talking, by the way, in case you're new to this blog.)
The problem Obama and the Democrats rightfully seek to address has nothing to do with the facility at Guantanamo, which is simply a prison, neither more nor less. It also happens to be a very convenient prison, because it's located many miles off the shores of the USA, an ideal spot for the incarceration of those who might want to do us harm. The Senators who expressed skepticism regarding the closing of this facility were absolutely right, and the Democrats among them should be commended, because this country should never be run on the basis of empty ideology, but on the basis of sound, critical thinking. In opposing Obama, they are making an all too rare show of responsibility and guts.
If there is a problem with the legal status of the prisoners, that has nothing to do with Guantanamo. Their status is a completely different issue from the issue of where they are to be held. Guantanamo has a purely symbolic significance, of course. Certain highly questionable practices took place there. So end those practices, fine. As far as I'm concerned, water boarding definitely looks like torture. Sleep deprivation doesn't. (Been there done that -- insomnia can be pretty awful, but it's something millions of people endure and if innocent people can endure it, terrorists can endure it.) But the larger point is that these practices have been examined and meaningful decisions are being made regarding them. Fine.
As far as the question of whether or not they are to be treated as prisoners of war, as I see it they are most certainly not prisoners of war. Nor are they common criminals. We need to face the fact that their status is unique and we need to treat them in a unique manner. War in the 21st Century is going to be very different from the way it was in the 20th, just as war in the 20th Century was very different from the 19th. The role of terrorism is going to be increasingly important, which means that protecting our borders is going to be increasingly important -- along with many other things, such as the growing importance of intelligence -- both kinds of intelligence, the spying kind but also the intelligent kind, aka simply being smarter, better informed, and also, when necessary, even more deceptive than your enemy.
Planes, ships, missiles, high tech weaponry, etc. are going to be increasingly unimportant. The ability to outsmart your opponent is going to be increasingly important. Torture is reprehensible for many reasons, and it is also ineffective. So why bother with it? If you have someone in custody who might have important information don't bother torturing him, first because it's wrong, but also because it won't do you any good. Lie to him! Manipulate him. Fool him. Hire a magician to make him think he's in the presence of Allah almighty. Be smart, not dumb.
Closing Guantanamo purely because it's taken on some sort of symbolic significance that makes it politically incorrect, is not smart. Transferring possibly dangerous individuals to the US mainland because it makes you feel better about yourself is not smart. I hate to say it but imo the ACLU has outlived its usefulness. Listening to anyone from this organization is a waste of time, i.e., also not smart. The facility at Guantanamo has never been the problem. Our failure to get beyond the political correctness thing, our failure to think more critically, deeply, logically and dispassionately about the world we now live in -- that's the problem. I like my fellow Democrats, I'm proud to be one of them. I admire my president. However: can we drop all the kid stuff and finally: GROW UP??????????