Gitmo's Big Headaches for Bam
By Gordon Cucullu
New York Post
November 18, 2008
One consequence of President-elect Obama and his party's victory is that the issues that provoked their sharp criticism during the campaign are now about to belong to them. President Bush's wars will soon be Obama's, and the question of what to do about the much-maligned detention/interrogation facility at Guantanamo will soon sit upon Obama's Oval Office desk.
Obama sources say that his administration will fulfill its campaign pledge to close the facility. Indeed, an announcement of Guantanamo's closure may precede his inauguration.
But has Obama allowed himself enough flexibility to deal with new contingencies regarding the Guantanamo detainees?
The majority of the 250 remaining detainees at Guantanamo are hardened jihadists, demonstrated by their behavior to be mortal enemies of the United States. Many detainees have affirmed their desire to continue in the al Qaeda cause and have repeatedly told interrogators that they wish to kill Americans and destroy our system. Leaders such as Khalid Sheik Mohammad cheerfully and publicly have catalogued their actions with great pride. "This blessed hand," KSM boasted to a military tribunal, "severed the head of the Jew infidel Daniel Pearl."
Yet Obama advisers are reported to be planning to release some detainees outright and to prosecute others in the US judiciary system. These advisers speak breezily about processing Guantanamo detainees through US courts with the full constitutional rights granted American citizens.
But this may be more challenging than they realize. Given the system's strict evidentiary requirements and the inability to maintain criminal-court standards on the battlefield, it is entirely possible that committed terrorists may be acquitted. This contingency begs the question of aftermath: Will the courts let freed detainees remain in the country?
The question isn't frivolous. Recently, federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the release of 17 Uigher detainees - Chinese Islamic minorities who are members of a group on the State Department terrorist list - into the Washington, DC, and Tallahassee, Fla., areas. The government has filed an appeal to stay the release, but the precedent is nearly set. This, in the face of a 94-3 Senate resolution in 2007 that states that detainees "should not be released into American society, nor should they be transferred stateside into facilities in American communities and neighborhoods."
Further, Obama advisers apparently are seeking to develop a judicial venue for the handling of cases involving highly classified information. Obama adviser Lawrence Tribe described the proposed venue as "some sort of hybrid that involves military commissions that actually administer justice rather than serve as kangaroo courts."
Yet any new system is certain to become a lightening rod for criticism - much of it from Obama supporters. The ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Lawyers Guild likely won't be content with any resolution of Guantanamo detainees' status that doesn't grant them a blanket release. These groups have been outspoken opponents of Guantanamo since its inception and have consistently proclaimed that the detainees are innocents swept off a chaotic battlefield or sold to US authorities for bounties.
California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff has acknowledged that "there would be concern about establishing a completely new system." Schiff recognizes that establishing "a regimen of detention that includes American citizens and foreign nationals" and that is located on US soil "would be very difficult." The issue is so loaded that it would likely split party unity on both sides of the aisle.
While Tribe thinks detainees "can be as securely guarded on US soil as anywhere else," such a facility would likely become a magnet for terrorist attacks. Over the last few years, multiple attacks - usually involving suicide bombers - have been carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen with the aim of releasing jihadist detainees. The frequency and success of these attacks is a warning that planners ought to heed.
Nor is the possibility of outright escape - to date, not an issue at Guantanamo - something that planners can dismiss. The scenario of committed terrorists loose in America must be considered before planners enact any option.
Studies done on housing the detainees in federal or military prisons such as the facility in Leavenworth, Kan., have met with both infrastructure and community objections. Republican Sen. Sam Brownback and Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda, both of Kansas, express strong reservations about moving Guantanamo detainees to the facility. Community members have protested the prospect. "These people are not ordinary criminals, but terrorists," one woman told the Chicago Tribune. "They can't be allowed to be near our town."
President-elect Obama quickly will be forced to come to terms on an issue fraught with consequences, many unforeseen. However Guantanamo is resolved, some of his key supporters will find it unsatisfactory. But Guantanamo will soon belong to Obama, along with the realization that the resolution of casual campaign promises is rarely as simple as it sounds.
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"I've also been 'inside GITMO,' and Cucullu's riveting account shows why we've been safer with it — and why we may soon regret being without it."— Monica Crowley, host of the Monica Crowley Show and author of Nixon in Winter
"Our new president should read it — twice — and take its truth-telling to heart." — Ralph Peters, columnist and author of Looking For Trouble
"Every relevant military and civilian official should give Cucullu's analysis a fair hearing." — Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of An Autumn of War
"An explosive expos of what's really been happening - 'inside the wire' at Guantanamo. Gordon Cucullu - with his Special Forces background, thorough research and extensive visits to Gitmo - knows more about the now-infamous detention facility than any 'outsider.' This book is a must-read for all who care about how we protect ourselves from those who are dying to kill us." — Oliver North, LtCol USMC (Ret.), host of War Stories on FOX News Channel & NYT bestselling author of American Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam
"Inside Gitmo is a book of incalculable importance. It lays bare the myths and the stakes involved in the campaign to shut down a facility that any objective reader must conclude is vital to our national security. Every policy-maker in Washington and every citizen across America should study this books brilliant first-hand reporting and its alarming findings." — Frank Gaffney, Jr, President, Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing
"Gordon Cucullu has written a lively work of history that fulfills its promise to explode 'the myths of Guantanamo Bay.' Anyone who wants to speak authoritatively about the Bush administration's detainee policies has to read this book." — Douglas J. Feith, senior fellow, Hudson Institute, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and author of War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism
The "Living Book" Concept
The "Living Book" Concept
This companion web site to Inside Gitmo was conceived and executed by Avery Johnson in collaboration with Chuck Martin. As a highly skilled, experienced researcher, Avery imposes strict demands on her work and that of author's with whom she works. Every stated fact must be backed by hard documentation. Hence readers find 524 citations in Inside Gitmo from a multiplicity of sources. Avery took that as "a good start."
Her concept - that you can interact with on these pages - is that with an issue as dynamic and multi-faceted as Guantanamo is too large to be captured only in a work of print. In order to complement and supplement the final work so that readers may continue to be apprised of developments on this critical subject and dig deeper into subjects that interest them, it is necessary and valuable to take advantage of technology.
Illustrative of this concept is that this site functions as a repository for all original documents used in the book as well as providing additional sources for continued research into the subject. For readers seeking context for specific passages referenced in the book, the site provides access to the original report, news article, book, or other source quoted. By so doing we are able to circumvent necessary space limitations in print by augmenting the book with electronic back-up.
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I think that this concept - a continually updated, vibrant companion website for a published book with complete references included - ought to be the new gold standard in publishing and strongly urge new and proven writers and authors to advantage themselves of these services.
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I'm a retired Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Vietnam War veteran and career officer, and now a writer. After serving more than thirteen years in East Asia I was sent on assignments in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and eventually worked Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State.
My many adventures since then have included raising llamas and alpacas in upstate New York, serving as the Executive Director of the Korea Society in Manhattan, working as an international marketing VP for General Electric in Asia, and traveling within corners of the world that few have had the privilege of experiencing.
In April-May 2008 I spent a month embedded with Military Police units in Iraq. Stories from my trip are posted at supportamericansoldiers.com — a book about what I saw and learned is also in the making.
My first book Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin was published in September 2004.
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