Back in March I was listening to "This American Life" on NPR. This particular week Ira Glass was doing a story about the tweaking of U.S. law for detainees down at Guantanamo. Essentially, the suspense of Habeas Corpus was the center of the story. It's titled ""Habeas Schmaebeas".
(Kind of like saying, ah screw the rights of human beings).
I understand all the different ways this administration has attempted to tweak the dimensions of this case, like move them to a place (Gitmo) where they can rewrite the law (ad hoc law) to tailor it for their objectives. Moving them 90 miles from Florida does this for them (from their perspective). From my perspective, when we move a site in an attempt to sabotage our judicial system, all bets are off. Both sides lose their rights (prosecution and defense). Bottom line: If you are not on U.S. soil, you cannot play the game.
Well back to my original point. There are some facts in this story that BLEW ME AWAY.
Seton Hall's School of Law conducted a study of 517 records released by the DoD last winter. What they found is not only infuriating, but also an abomination of the essence of America. The fact that I was an active duty Marine (finished my service 10 months ago) serving this nation when this was all happening (and still is) really pisses me off!
Here is how Seton Hall's abstract reads:
"The media and public fascination with who is detained at Guantanamo and why has been fueled in large measure by the refusal of the Government, on the grounds of national security, to provide much information about the individuals and the charges against them. The information available to date has been anecdotal and erratic, drawn largely from interviews with the few detainees who have been released or from statements or court filings by their attorneys in the pending habeas corpus proceedings that the Government has not declared "classified."
This Report is the first effort to provide a more detailed picture of who the Guantanamo detainees are, how they ended up there, and the purported bases for their enemy combatant designation. The data in this Report is based almost entirely upon the United States Government's own documents. This Report provides a window into the Government's success detaining only those that the President has called "the worst of the worst."
Among the findings of the Report:
1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.
2. Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.
3. The Government has detained numerous persons based on mere affiliations with a large number of groups that, in fact, are not on the Department of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist. Moreover, the nexus between such a detainee and such organizations varies considerably. Eight percent are detained because they are deemed "fighters for;" 30% considered "members of;" a large majority - 60% - are detained merely because they are "associated with" a group or groups the Government asserts are terrorist organizations. For 2% of the prisoners, a nexus to any terrorist group is not identified by the Government.
4. Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.
5. Finally, the population of persons deemed not to be enemy combatants - mostly Uighers - are in fact accused of more serious allegations than a great many persons still deemed to be enemy combatants."
I recently wrote my senators about this issue. I explained to them that it was their responsibility to challenge this administration and teach the American people about this subject. I also stated that I felt that the House and Senate is and has been failing us miserably for not putting this subject (and many others) at the forefront of their agenda.
This is our future. Every Marine, Soldier, Sailor and Airmen that is now in harms way (as well as future generations) runs the risk of this same treatment. We have created a dangerous precedent that can still be killed (with the proper amount collective rhetoric and action). Right now, we only have a handful of Senators that have the balls to bring this type of issue up (Feingold, Byrd, Boxer, Harkin, Kennedy and Kerry and maybe some others). I think we really need to change the dialogue by demanding that our leaders find the courage to save this nation.
This is all relevant. It has never been more relevant than right now. It affects every single one of us--including our leadership. We put these knuckleheads in office and we can also take them out.