When did we become such cowards? What is the big deal about bringing the prisoners at Guatanamo to the US? The US has more prisoners per capita than any other country. If there is one thing we know how to do it is incarcerate people. This letter sent to Talking Points Memo from a Dutch reader puts it rather succinctly:
If you live outside of the US, or the US centric bubble. then the incredible stupidity of the this viewpoint is obvious.
Where does the World Court reside? It resides in the Hague in the Netherlands. the Netherlands has a population of 16 million (that are not allowed to bear arms or such).
The world courts deals with the worst of the worst, anything in Gitmo pails to what these folks have done.
Let’s take those war criminals (of which dozens have been tried and sentenced) from the Balkan conflict as an example. Here is a group that still has lots of support (Serbs primarily) all across Europe. They are in cells in the Hague which is driving distance from their homeland. Not like some poor Afghan farmer totally divorced from his people, these people have strong support living with a few hours drive!! Almost nothing could stop them from attacking and trying to release there leaders (and heros), or at least taking revenge on the country they are incarcerated in. The REAL danger to this court pails to anything the perceived Gitmo people could possibly do.
Just look at the history of the Balkan conflict, its horrible geenocide and the people who did the killing, and then grab a map to see where the two countries lie, you will get the picture. Then do the same for the Afghan conflict … Kinda makes you giggle.
But, do you hear the good people of the Netherlands on the streets demanding these criminals leave or cowering under their beds at night? No, it just might be that not all folks in the globe are NIMBY and some have the balls to realize that freedom comes at a price, and you never know when you will have to pay up in full.
Could it be that a small country in “old” Europe has more balls than the gun toting folk wingnuts of the US have?
Of course, the detainees we’re warehousing at Gitmo were not sent there because they were a threat to the US, or the “worst of the worst.” They were sent there because the Bush/Cheney administration wanted to put them somewhere outside the jurisdiction of US law so they could do things to them that would be illegal in the US. They wanted to be able to torture them. No habeas corpus, no fair trials, no human rights.
I’m sure there are plenty of Americans who are terrified at the prospect of having these “super villains” in the US. That’s the whole point of terrorism, and Americans have been remarkably vulnerable. But I think the politicians are terrified of something else. If the detainees are transferred from Guantanamo to the US, the main difference would be that they would have to be treated in accordance with the Constitution and the Geneva Convention, just like any other prisoner. They would have to be charged with a crime and given a trial. That is what the politicians are terrified of.
And they probably have good reason to be. If or when the truth comes out, no doubt it will become clear that our leaders, in our name and with our consent, sank to the level of the of those we’ve accused of evil.
It is time everyone took responsibility for what they’ve done, torturers and terrorists alike. It begins with closing Guantanamo, transferring the people we’ve held there to a legitimate jurisdiction and either give them a trial or release them. In the process we need to look closely and honestly at how a travesty such as an extra-judicial prison happened, and take steps to make sure it never happens again. In the end the only meaningful victory against terrorism will be when we no longer feel terrified. Someday we may become once again the land of the free and the home of the brave.