So, our new President has made it official: Guantanamo Bay’s prison for terrorists will close within the year. No surprise, of course; this is one campaign promise that he had to keep and the Left had to keep. Originally, the Left saw this as an opportunity to attack Bush, and whether or not they believed that it was actually morally a bad thing, they were all the more happy to use it. So, is this a bad thing? Until we know the full extent of the Presidents replacement system for dealing with terrorists that do not follow the laws of war (wearing uniforms, attempting to protect civilians, etc.), then it’s up in the air.
I think that an important thing to remember is that Gitmo, in of itself, was never a real problem. It’s just a location. People that claim that real, honest to God torture took place there are either misinformed or liars. It’s simply a location that the U.S. government could use as a middle place for holding the worst of the worst. Not the United States proper, but still under our control and secure.
Many Conservative editorialists, magazines, and pundits have been calling for a new system to be put in place for dealing with terrorists like the ones kept at Gitmo for a long time. They — including myself — were not happy with either the system that Clinton used or the system Bush used. They both suffer from not dealing with the issue head on, and in cooperation with the other branches of the government. These people absolutely should not be given full POW rights under the Geneva Conventions — they are illegal enemy combatants. Simply put, if we start treating all terrorists — regardless of how they behave in war — full POW rights, the whole point of the Conventions in the first place go away, and one reason to act with any sort of reserve or honor on the battlefield disappears. A new framework is needed to dictate how to hold this classification of prisoners, allow for interrogation, dictate what rights they are allowed, repatriation procedures, etc.
In absence of this framework, the Belmont Club shows some of the potential problems. Again, hopefully our new President has plans in place to deal with these issues.