The U.S. continues to wrestle with detritus of human civilization, that collection of terrorists and pondscum currently being detained at Guantanamo Bay. Neither prisoners of war nor criminals of any real value, what is to be done with them and those to be similarly detained in the future?
A reported plan by the Bush administration to keep some suspected al-Qaeda members imprisoned for a lifetime without trial has come under attack.
The Washington Post newspaper says the Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it was unwilling to set free or turn over to domestic or foreign courts.
Some detentions could potentially last a lifetime, the newspaper said.
Influential senators quickly denounced the idea as probably being unconstitutional.
“It’s a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this,” Republican Senator Richard Lugar said.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, cited earlier US Supreme Court decisions.
“There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process… if you’re going to detain people, whether it’s for life or whether it’s for years,” he said.
I have little problem with achieving a “semblance of due process,” assuming there’s any actual applicable definition of the status of these pigs.
The story claims the Defence Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, is about to ask Congress for $25m to build a new, 200-bed prison, dubbed Camp 6.
The newspaper said its purpose will be to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal due to a lack of evidence.
The new prison would allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now, and would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share, the newspaper said.
“Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems,” Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted as saying.
“This has been evolutionary, but we are at a point in time where we have to say, ‘How do you deal with them in the long term?’”
The paper said the outcome of a current review would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.
One proposal being discussed is transferring many Afghan, Yemeni and Saudi detainees – the majority of the 500 suspects at Guantanamo Bay – to new US-built prisons in their home countries.
Those countries would still run the prisons, but the US State Department, where this idea originated, would monitor them for compliance to human rights standards.
I agree with building more secure but humane facilities for the detainees. Perhaps we should also look for other isolated areas under U.S. control for future facilities.
As to the return of nationals to prisons in their homelands, I am skeptical as to the level of security available for this to be a viable option for any sizable number.
Human rights groups say there is little hard evidence against many of the Guantanamo Bay suspects.
But the Pentagon and the CIA argue that the post-September 11 era requires a new tougher approach and that many of the suspects are hardened terrorists who, if released, would plot fresh atrocities.
In fact, this has already been seen from previous detainees thought harmless enough for release.