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.
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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