From Guantanamo to Provence, FR: Boumiediene Tells His Story

Guantanamo will turn 10 years old Wednesday -- it was January 11, 2002 that the first 20 detainees arrived. In the New York Times, Akhdar Boumediene, imprisoned there for 7 years, now living in Provence, France with his wife and children, tells his story.

Boumediene has left his mark on Supreme Court jurisprudence. In his case (opinion here), the Supreme Court ruled that those imprisoned at Gitmo are entitled to their day in court.

Petitioners have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. They are not barred from seeking the writ or invoking the Suspension Clause’s protections because they have been designated as enemy combatants or because of their presence at Guantanamo.


Boumediene writes:

I do not like to think of Guantánamo. The memories are filled with pain. But I share my story because 171 men remain there. Among them is Belkacem Bensayah, who was seized in Bosnia and sent to Guantánamo with me.

About 90 prisoners have been cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo. Some of them are from countries like Syria or China — where they would face torture if sent home — or Yemen, which the United States considers unstable. And so they sit as captives, with no end in sight — not because they are dangerous, not because they attacked America, but because the stigma of Guantánamo means they have no place to go, and America will not give a home to even one of them.

Why is Guantanamo still open? Is it because Congress has tied Obama's hands? Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, writes:

The president is himself a prisoner, hemmed in by rules that make releasing captives nearly impossible.

I agree Congress is principally to blame. And while I wonder if a stronger or politically more astute and savvy President might have overcome the Congressional obstacles, it really isn't the issue any more. Our choice in November will be between Obama and a Republican, and there isn't a viable Republican running that would close Guantanamo or end military tribunals and indefinite detention. (Ron Paul is not viable -- any more than Dennis Kucinich was viable.) And Huntsman speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He's critical of Obama for not closing Gitmo, but says:

Guantanamo Bay is an imperfect solution. But we must keep enemy fighters off the battlefield, maintain mechanisms to derive useful intelligence from detainees, and have a suitable detention facility until individual cases can be adjudicated. But it is also a priority that as we defend ourselves, we maintain our international legal commitments, and more importantly, abide by the spirit and letter of our Constitution. This includes ensuring that our counterterrorism professionals acting in good faith and within their duties need never doubt whether their own government will turn on them.

That he thinks of the Constitution as something to be applied first to counter-terror professionals (not detainees), that he supports a dedicated detainee facility and "mechanisms" to get "intelligence" out of detainees should give you a clue. That he claims to oppose "harsh interrogation techniques" is of little comfort.

I hope the Democrats choose more wisely in 2016 than they did in 2008 -- both as to their candidate and their Congresspersons. Maybe if Dems stop whining about Obama and start concentrating now on finding a better candidate for next time, and convincing the public it needs to vote for that person, things will change for the better.

Personally, I'd like to see all the released Gitmo detainees compensated for their lost years. If we can spend $800k a year to imprison a detainee at Gitmo, we can pay those who were wrongly imprisoned. Here's the Gitmo 2011 budget.

The U.S. should close Gitmo, try any remaining detainees it believes have committed a crime in federal court, and send the rest home or to the third country of their choice who will have them.

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    A better Candidate (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by koshembos on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 05:57:34 AM EST
    Repeating endless doesn't change the fact that many of us didn't think much of Obama back in 2008. Also unclear is the lack of a viable Democratic president in 2012 opposing a weak and dysfunctional Obama. The Party clearly manifests ineptness and vast support for the 1%.

    Gitmo is one item on a long, and getting longer daily, list.

    Right (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 10:44:29 AM EST
    I hope the Democrats choose more wisely in 2016 than they did in 2008

    They had a chance to at least run someone in the primary who could have forced Obama to take some uncomfortable stands, and they passed.  Obama speaks volumes about the party's leaders, they are morally defective weasels who's greed for power and money is maing most of the country pay.

    In 2016 they will do what they did in 2008, what they did this year, find the person easiest to elect and keep the discussions about morality and priciple for the cocktail parties.


    Jeralyn, thank you very much for linking (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 11:35:08 AM EST
    to Mr. Boumediene's NYT opinion piece.  Every citizen of the U.S. should read it.

    "between Obama and a Republican" (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Andreas on Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 05:46:32 PM EST
    No, the choice is not between "Obama and a Republican" when both the Democrats and the Republicans represent the material and political interests of 1% of the society.

    The only realistic choice for the 99% majority is to build a political party and movement to defeat the two-party dictatorship.

    Baher Azmy, (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:07:34 PM EST
    now legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and formerly counsel for Murat Kurnaz, a German who was detained by Pakistani authorities and sold to the U.S. for a bounty, and also one of the lawyers who wrote briefings for the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, had this  to say the other day about the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA that Obama signed into law New Years Eve...

    "[There are] really dangerous provisions here that would make it nearly impossible to close Guantanamo," Azmy explained. "Congress has forbidden from transfering or releasing any detainees from Guantanamo to their home countries or third countries willing to take them as refugees unless the Defense Department can meet this exceedingly onerous certification requirement. Basically, before anyone can be released, the Defense Department has to certify that the individual will not engage in any hostile acts when they are returned -- something that the Defense Department cannot certify, which is why the FBI and [Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta vigorously opposed these provisions.

    "The effect of that will make it virtually impossible to move people out of Guantanamo. Congress is basically shutting all of the detainees in."

    -- RawStory

    happy new year...

    and that provision (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:16:03 PM EST
    was written by Congress. Approved by Obama, but not his preference, as he said in his meaningless signing statement.

    Effectively written into the NDAA (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Edger on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:26:16 PM EST
    at Obama's request I understand, too...

    Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) speaking in the Senate, recorded by CSPAN:

    "[T]he language which precluded the application of Section 1031 to American Citizens was in the bill that we originally approved in the Armed Services Committee, and the Administration asked us to remove the language, which says that US Citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section"

    *note: that video has been removed from youtube by the user who posted it, but the Levin quote will be in Committee transcripts...


    There is a fair (none / 0) (#7)
    by MKS on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 03:05:09 PM EST
    Yeah, nothing unbiased about that post. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 05:27:03 PM EST
    I agree Edger is biased (1.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MKS on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 07:58:01 PM EST
    That's the talking point anyway (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Romberry on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 01:30:49 AM EST
    But is it the actual truth? Not so much.

    Jeralyn, maybe you know (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 04:33:20 AM EST
    Does each years NDAA supersede in entirety the previous years NDAA?

    Or to put it another way, if in the 2013 NDAA and/or subsequent NDAA's there is no language specifically invalidating Sections 1031 and 1032 of the the 2012 bill, do those sections remain in effect as law of the land?