The recent capture of an Al-Quaida leader in Libya has elicited the usual Republican reaction.
Instead of praising the Obama administration for the daring raid that captured Abu Abas Al-Libi, who is said to have participated in the deadly attack on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990's, Republican Senators Lindsey Grahman, Kelly Ayotte and Saxby Chambliss used the occasion to heap praise instead on one of their proudest creations, the Guantanamo prison. “Guantanamo Bay... is a top-rate detention facility,” said Senator Ayotte, contrasting Guantanamo with the Navy ship where Al-Libit was being held. Senator Chambliss went further, suggesting that for the nation's enemies indefinite detention and interrogation at Guantanamo was preferable to standard treatment in our courts, where lawyers get involved.
Since its creation as a "temporary" holding facility by the Bush II administration, Republicans can't seem to get enough of Guantanamo. They defend it at every turn. Austerity conscious as they claim to be, they never complain about the .5 billion dollars we spend to house its current population of 160 prisoners each year. They seem to be saying that despite the expense, the nation simply must keep the facility.
Where else could we put people who have made trouble for us and not have the courts looking over our shoulders, second-guessing us with all their talk about rights? Without courts and lawyers and absent a hunger strike, once they are there, years go by before we even hear from the prisoners again. Republicans have learned there's no place better than Guantanamo--off our shores, in another country-- to get something literally out of sight and out of mind.
Thought of that way, Guantanamo does seem like the perfect place to put anything or anyone we don't want to think about, which is for some of our politicians a long and growing list. For all the talk about closing Guantanamo, maybe some of our leaders who don't want to be thinking about all the things they don't want to think about are thinking instead how many of those things they detest would go away if we didn’t close Guantanamo, but we expanded it. After all, at forty-five square miles, Guantanamo Bay could accommodate far, far more than the 160 prisoners there now.
How many more?
Let’s see now: Manila houses more than 110,000/ sq. mile, Athens, 45,000. At a mere 80,000 bodies/sq. mile, surely a reasonable number, we could easily house 4 million more at Guantanamo, and once there instead of here that would be 4 million less bothersome things we might have to think about.
What kinds of things you ask? It should be obvious.
We don't want to think about climate change, evolution, our changing demographics, unwanted children, or the toxic effects of multi-generation poverty. And that's just a start. We don't want to think about our top-heavy economic system, our declining middle class, attacks on public schools, worker and voter rights, the real effects of free trade agreements on America's workers or the effect on democracy of unlimited campaign contributions.
Surely, those who voice concern about such minor issues are irritants the nation would do far better without. That’s why he simple and obvious solution would be an expanded Guantanamo, a perfect home for the disaffected.
For more than a century, the French had their Devil's Island just off the northern coast of South America, where they housed their own political prisoners. We fortunately have our own facility, and we should use it.
We can get rid of Guantanamo, just like all those teary-eyed liberals would like. We'll change its name.
We'll call it Denial Isle instead. (Oct, 2013)