2008/11/14

Moral responsbility for innocent Guantanamo prisoners

Dick Morris and Alan Colmes on Guantanamo and what to do with innocet prisoners there:

ALAN COLMES: ...you know, the whole idea that what this president has done -- enemy combatants, that he can declare anybody an enemy combatant -- people not having rights to an attorney --
MORRIS: Let's --
COLMES: -- locking people away without an opportunity for redress.
MORRIS: Well, let me --
COLMES: That's radical.
MORRIS: ...Enemy combatants. As we point out in Fleeced, there have been 225 people released from Guantánamo, and 50 of them -- 50 of them -- have taken the battlefield and fought against American soldiers. And we know, because we've killed them or wounded them, and we have their proof -- the DNA -- that we had them under lock and key.
And now Obama's going to close Gitmo, and all of those people are gonna be back in the field, fighting against us.

First off, I very highly doubt that 50 former prisoners have gone back to the battlefield to fight against Americans and please note that closing Gitmo does not automatically equal letting prisoners go. Prisoners who can be proven guilty will obviously be kept in custody, but let's say Morris is right. What to do about people who are unjustly incarcerated? 1) The US can keep them indefinitely, but that's morally indefensible. 2) The US can execute them, but that's even more grotesquely immoral. 3) The US can remove their motivation to go back to the battlefield and fight Americans.

Carrying out option number 3 would mean punishing those who are responsible for allowing the moral abomination of Guantanamo to exist in the first place. By excusing and sweeping Guantanamo and other, assorted atrocities under the rug, the US demonstrates that the lives of Muslims and our own moral culpability are of no concern to us. By punishing the perpetrators, the US demonstrates that Guantanamo really does represent an abhorrent and condemned chapter in our history.

The relevant campaign statement from our President-Elect is:

If you were a Muslim overseas listening to Rudy Giuliani say "they are coming here to try to kill you," which is the tenor of many of the speeches that are delivered by Republicans, you would get an impression that they are not interested in talking and resolving issues peacefully. Now, what we need to do [to reach Muslims] is we need to close Guantanamo. We need to restore habeas corpus. We need to send a strong signal that we are going to talk directly to not just our friends but also to our enemies.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007 
 

Note that President-Elect Obama suggests going well beyond mere statements. He suggests taking concrete actions to assure Muslims that yes, Americans really do regret ever opening up Guantanamo.

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