In 2008, Barak Obama as a presidential candidate announced he would close the American prison at Guantanamo. It is now 2015 and after 7 years in office he didn’t keep his word or did he? Activists and liberals around the world have continually cited the failure to close “Gitmo” as proof that President Obama was no different than President Bush, either of them. Most of them knew better, knew why “Gitmo” is open to this day, who is responsible and the perversion of American government that has kept this international embarrassment alive and well.
This week, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services indicated that his party might consider ending its blockade on funding authorizations needed for President Obama to close Guantanamo. It seems Guantanamo has been kept open all these years, not by President Obama, but by the Republican Party, the one that finances the groups that attack President Obama for failing to close Guantanamo. This should be no surprise in a world where “sound bites” and “bumper stickers” are treated as political polemics.
“Finally, and very importantly, this legislation contains a bipartisan compromise on the issue of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. This legislation would require the administration to provide a comprehensive plan to the Congress on how they intend to close Guantanamo and all of the associated aspects. I’ve always been in favor of closing Guantanamo because of the image that Guantanamo has in the world. Whether it’s deserved or not, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay in the minds of many throughout the world are intermingled.”
Yet the prison remained open, year after year, even though both 2012 presidential candidates favored its closing.
There are 122 inmates in Guantanamo. Those that lived to reach Guantanamo may have spent months or years in massive prison complexes in Poland or have sat in dungeons in Egypt. Most American air bases, in Italy, Britain, Germany and elsewhere, anything with a runway, have secret interrogation and detention centers, often next to the areas where heroin is cut and repackaged on its way from Afghanistan. Narcotics and detainees often travel together, perhaps the only way the CIA and US Department of Defense have ever looked out for the interests of the American taxpayer.
Of the 122 held, 57 can be released or transferred. The rest are held there literally forever, not because of crimes, though the military tribunals some had been subjected to violated numerous tenets of the 1949 Geneva Convention. They are being held because the US congress, under the total control of the Republican Party and Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Macau gambling boss who finances their elections, have cleverly blocked any measure that could end nearly a decade and a half of prisoner abuse.
McCain is being blocked in his own party by his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Mac Thornbury, a Texas Republican. Thornbury is concerned that if detainees are allowed to leave Cuba, they may be able to exercise human rights guaranteed by both the US Constitution and international treaties and conventions. Thornbury and his party have in all these years never been called to account for their active role in human rights abuses. Thornbury, a Christian evangelist and Israeli proponent has managed to escape not only all mainstream media publicity but the “slings and arrows” of activist groups as well.
Why is that?
McCain’s answer to the problem, perhaps a pragmatic one, is to put language into the bill that would fund closure of Guantanamo that would allow prisoners held inside the United States to fall under a “special category,” with no civil or human rights of any kind. A special commission is to be set up to oversee which prisoners in which facilities will have their rights to trial by jury and restrictions on cruel and unusual punishment rescinded. That commission will meet in secret, its membership unknown, its actual powers and the extent of the application of provisions that would establish a “dark site” gulag inside the United States will never be made public.
The Republican Party, the one terrified of the US Army declaring martial law, demands that the right to trial by jury for minimally Guantanamo detainees and “unspecified others” be eliminated, indicating a willingness to legislatively suspend habeas corpus.
Back in 2005, the Bush administration, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, inserted language allowing rendition of anyone inside the US if the individual, when detained or “kidnapped” as we can’t use the term “arrest” as that term indicates part of a legal procedure, and we have left legality behind long ago, to be transferred to a “black site” prison.
Newly appointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales ruled that any American unable to prove his US citizenship could be considered an “enemy combatant.” The only acceptable documentation for citizenship is a US Passport and/or “naturalization” documents signed by a federal magistrate.
Any other American could, if the government believed it necessary, detained and sent outside the United States for “enhanced interrogation.” A key provision of the Gonzales opinion was an absolute and total abrogation of US government responsibility to aid a detainee in proving his citizenship.
This process suspended constitutional rights for undocumented Americans. Fewer than 35% of Americans own passports and fewer than 2%, according to studies, carry them domestically. The Gonzales decision quietly rescinded all civil rights for 98% of Americans without them being aware.
Now congress is planning something broader. Back in 2010 an innocent sounding “activist” group called Citizens United, in reality a front for human traffickers, drug and gambling cartels, sued the United States government to allow “political rights and free speech” for “corporations.”
By a 5/4 vote, the same justices supporting this provision as those who appointed Bush to the presidency, penned a broad ruling empowering all corporations, even those of 100% foreign ownership, unlimited, unrestricted and unsupervised rights, as part of “free speech,” to spend any amount in any election in the United States. As a result, billions of dollars from drug and prostitution rings came into the United States funding the Republican Party and, particularly, its “Tea Party” extremists, the one of the most corrupt political groups in the world. This is the congress that is writing the current legislation limiting rights to trial by jury for 350 million Americans in order to protect “the public” from 3 dozen pitiful souls, most imprisoned and tortured for more than a decade.
While the world’s “rights watch” groups are silent, while blogosphere activists await their talking points and monthly checks, the US congress, acting on the part of invisible paymasters are in the process of creating a new biological organism, stateless and devoid of rights, invisible to the world, immune to any of the civilizing influences ostensibly intended to mitigate human suffering over a sea of history.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.