Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Military's Answer to Gitmo

The Supreme Court consistently dodges the reality of our prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Bush Administration steadfastly maintains it has the right to detain them as long as they want without due process simply because they are being held outside the boundaries of the United States. But the military, faced with the same problem in Iraq has, in its usual pragmatic way, solved the problem for itself.

The American surge resulted in at least one unforeseen consequence and that is the capture of large numbers of insurgent prisoners of war. To deal with them, the military operates camps which, under the capable hands of military officers, are serving not only as detention centers, but also as schools capable of educating the prisoners to the point where they often come to see the error of their ways or, at least, that there is a better way to go about things than terrorism.

The initial premise that spurred their creative response to the problem was the military’s realization that by imprisoning these 24,000 men, they created a situation that could have more than one outcome. The outcome they wanted to guard against was that the camps could easily become recruiting posts for the insurgency. How, they wondered, could they deal with these men in a way that would forestall that likely result?

Apparently one of the first thoughts that came to mind was that the BushCo approach of repeated torturous questioning would not help their quest. But what alternative is there to beating information out of people? Simple. Do the opposite and educate them.

Brigadier General Michael Nevins recognized that a large number of his prisoners were illiterate. Putting two and two together – a feat obviously beyond Mr. Bush’s capabilities – Gen. Nevins also knew that people unexposed to education are easily led in negative directions, so he worked to educate them and has now put together the bricks and mortar for a school called Da’ar al Hikma or House of Wisdom.

The wise general knows that there are a goodly number of men in his custody who will never be turned away from their Jihadist thinking. For them, he has created a prison that will hold them until the day comes when the country’s ills will be settled to the point that insurgency will not be an option. For the others, he seeks to provide enough education to help them see through the nonsense of suicidal missions to achieve the company of 72 virgins.

As a result, some of his prisoners have already been released to take an active part in the positive development of their country. After all, these men might have been fighting for the other side, but they were definitely motivated by their view of what is good for their country. Helping them to see that there is a better way to achieve the same goal is of value for everyone.

School is only part of the solution, though. Before anyone gets that far into the system, each prisoner goes before a military court which gives each prisoner complete information about why he is being held and a chance to plead his side of the story. The first message they get, then, is that there is some justice being meted out.

The general is also wise enough to know that this first step is a powerful tool in the process of demonstrating that the folks this prisoner has always perceived as the “enemy” might be more judicious than the “friends” that led him into this mess. The health care they receive and the fact that their families are allowed to visit add fuel to this thought process. Compare that to what has happened to the detainees at Gitmo and it’s easy to see why the rest of the world keeps telling us to shut the place down.

This isn’t a bleeding heart call to be kind to the nice boys at Gitmo. It is a common sense plea for our government to act in a humane fashion and thus demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are at least a little better than the Gestapo after all.

If the government can demonstrate that a Gitmo detainee has acted in ways that unreasonably endanger his fellow man (as opposed to fighting to protect his country as American soldiers are purported to do), then it would be legal to detain him, and we could do so on American soil after due process. But without formally filing some charge against a person, it goes against the very grain of the American soul to hold and abuse that person.

No human being deserves to be imprisoned far away from everyone and everything, held in isolation and barred from the light of the justice system without due cause, but those things and much more have been inflicted upon every Gitmo detainee by the nation that calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Our own military has clearly shown in Iraq that there is a better way. Shouldn’t our own government recognize that, too, and do something to heal the horrible wound to our psyche and international reputation that Guantanamo Bay represents?

The answer should be a resounding YES and, as a part of the outrage that should generate that YES, the people of this country should be demanding the prosecution of the “leaders” that caused this disgrace to occur and consistently acted to perpetuate it.

January 16, 2008 has been designated as a day on which to call our Congressmen and demand that they join in the effort to impeach and prosecute dick Cheney for the damages administration policies have inflicted upon this country and the world. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to speak to your Congress member. Tell them it is high time to hold Cheney accountable for his high crimes and misdemeanors.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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