Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Not Move Detainees to U.S?

Why can't we move Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S? The Republicans have mounted an amazing campaign claiming that we will not be safe if these terrorists currently incarcerated at Guantanamo are moved to U.S. prisons. Never mind that they would be moved to supermax prisons. Never mind that any prisoners actually released would be released to their home countries, not to the U.S. Never mind that none of this will happen anytime soon, but will happen after careful deliberation and due process (an admittedly foreign concept for Guantanamo detainees) to ensure that the most dangerous prisoners are appropriately handled.

The most recent reason why we can't have these terrorists in American prisons? Conservative pundits and blogs cite an incident that took place in 2000 involving a Muslim terrorist. This article about Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, in custody for the two embassy bombings in 1998, details his attack on a prison guard. On Nov. 1, 2000, while incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, Salim's attack left the guard blinded and partially paralyzed. This example is used to explain how violent jihadists are because of their background. That because of the kind of training they receive, because they are on a holy mission, they are more dangerous, more brutal, and more willing to risk their own lives and thus, too dangerous for U.S. prisons.

This is one incident. More detainees at Guantanamo have been injured in custody than have their guards. In fact, we have an obligation beyond ending "enhanced interrogation" to remove these men fromGuantanamo. Everyday these men experience cruel and unusual punishment that exceeds stress positions and the other techniques listed in the OLC memos. The Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) teams at Guantanamo as detailed here are more brutal than one man with a homemade shiv could ever be.

The U.S. is more than capable of containing violent prisoners and doing it ethically and legally. Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, and others are in custody. Bundy, Dahmer, and other serial killers too numerous to mention are either incarcerated or were executed and all were at least as dangerous as some of the men in Guantanamo. Many of the men in Guantanamo have actually done nothing wrong and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of the paranoia of Bush and Cheney, and the inability of the system they attempted to put in place to deal with errors, these men are still there.

Why are the Republicans so afraid of bringing these men into American prisons? Why has the Democratic leadership knuckled under and begun singing that song? We have the highest unemployment rate ever. Prisons are experiencing reductions in size, prisoners are being given early release because of over-crowding. Guards are being let go, prisons are reducing units, and some supermax prisons stand empty. Closing Guantanamo and bringing the detainees here would add jobs to the corrections system without creating any additional danger. In fact, by closing Guantanamo, a symbol of the abuse of prisoners, it would enhance our image in the world and enhance our image with potential al Qaeda recruits, thus reducing one factor leading to the reason young men join al Qaeda.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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