Anyone who wrote a book critical of the G.W. Bush administration should donate a copy to George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum 2943 SMU Blvd. Dallas, TX 75205.
As Bush celebrates the opening of his presidential library, there's an annex at Gitmo complete with an interactive exhibit of hunger-striking detainees in cages and "hard choices" to make. The public should be the deciders, except it's all taking place in secret military commissions.
The New York Times has a must-read editorial about five living American presidents kidding about "revisionist history" at the opening of the G.W. Bush Presidential Library opening.
But there is another building, far from Dallas on land leased from Cuba, that symbolizes Mr. Bush’s legacy in a darker, truer way: the military penal complex at Guantánamo Bay where Mr. Bush imprisoned hundreds of men after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a vast majority guilty of no crime.
Behind the lighthearted facade is a one of the greatest travesties of justice in American history, and the message is: pay no attention to that shameful symbol of Executive overreach in the corner.
As the NY Times writes:
There are still 166 men there — virtually all of them held without charges, some for more than a decade. More than half have been cleared for release . . .Under Bush, the United States kidnapped innocent people - probably in exchange for hefty bounties - and flew them halfway around the world, tortured many of them, and locked them away from the federal justice system. Under Obama, they remain detained at Guantanamo, now so desperate for justice that at least 93 are starving themselves, and 17 are being force-fed. (And, the reported numbers of hunger strikers are notoriously low).
The Pentagon's response to the hunger strike seems more focused on disputing what started it, under-reporting the numbers of strikers, and figuring out how to keep the detainees from dying of starvation. (Read Jason Leopold and Carol Rosenberg for accurate reporting on the Gitmo strike.)
There are 86 people cleared for release and many are starving themselves while Washington plays the political blame game with a variety of excuses: Congress blocked transfers to the U.S., other countries won't take them, etc. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has quietly abandoned efforts to close the base and initiated projects to make the prison permanent.
Legal commentators talk about Gitmo as if it wasn't our government that created this mess with the purpose of detaining and torturing people without interference from the courts or the Constitution.
But whatever Mr. Bush says about how comfortable he is with his “tough” choices, the country must recognize the steep price being paid for what is essentially a political prison.We can start by releasing the innocent people, and releasing them here in the U.S. if their home countries are no longer safe (a situation of our own making). That would end the hunger strike, and is better than the strike's other end point: detainee suicides.
“They are not done yet, and they will not be done until there is more than one death,” said a Muslim adviser to the military, identified as “Zak” for security reasons, who fears there may be suicides. Only one thing, he predicted, will satisfy the detainees: if someone is allowed to leave."The Guantanamo Stain" is not just on G.W. Bush's legacy, but on the entire country.