Subject: When You Gitmo Than You Asked For
Date: Jun 16 2005 11:44AM
This missive was intended as a response to a BOTF post by RWJones, but as it took on a life of its own and the BOTF is again off its life-support system until the courts determine otherwise, I decided to cut it free within this space.
This [fray.slate.msn.com] is by far and away one of the most outstanding examples of what I would consider pure tripe that I have seen on the BOTF. It exemplifies in glorious detail the paucity of truth available to the ardent defenders of this administration and the zealous hypocrisy with which some are still prepared to continue. Allow me to illustrate ...
"They are far too busy apologizing for lynchings, apologizing for slavery, apologizing for winning the cold war, and apoologizing for establishing democracy in Germany, Italy, Japan, and Afghanistan."
Apologizing for lynchings, yes that seems to have been a recent issue. Apologizing for slavery - I think that was some time ago (did we actually say 'I'm sorry, I forgot). But apologizing for winning the cold war (did we?), establishing democracy in these other countries - did anybody really do that? Are these elected members of Congress? Perhaps you were exaggerating a bit, a little poetic license? Or can you not separate your paranoid fantasies from reality? It is so hard to tell sometimes.
"They refuse to protect our borders; it might anger the illegal immigrants. They refuse to demand accountability at the UN; it might upset other members. They refuse to prosecute the war on terror; criticizing Bush and his Administration is so much more satisfying."
I would remind you that this administration has a party majority in both chambers of Congress, something rare in the American political landscape of the past century. There should be little impediment to proceeding with grand visions and noble causes. What is holding you back? Illegal immigrants? They can't vote. The U.N? Fire away, give it your best shot. You have my permission. But refusing to prosecute the war on terror? Ah, therein lies the subject and palette of your post, but you have already framed this as a black and white portrait.
From there you hand things over to a voice even more bellicose than your own. I cannot even begin to address the hallucinatory quality of the remarks - only note that the commentary in no part addresses the issues surrounding Guantanamo but simply seeks to categorically characterize and demonize any detractors of this nation's current policy. Trying as hard as I might, I do not see myself in this portrait, so I will ignore it and focus on the actual subject as that author should have done, for even that author and I agree that you cannot negotiate with terrorists nor reason with idealogues.
In the 'either or' scenario of defeating terrorism, you suggest that we stand and fight or be prepared to live in a high security jail of our own making. You assume these are exclusive conditions. What if they are not? What if a wrongful strategy in fighting terrorism only fosters more terrorism - like fighting a chemical fire with water or Micky's attempt to chop up the spirited and persistent broom in Fantasia? I will come right out and say it:
Terrorism cannot be destroyed
No more than hatred can be destroyed. No more easily than poverty can be eradicated. With no less effort than it would take to remove all disease from this planet. Terrorism has been around for a long time and it will continue.
We may struggle to contain it, to direct its focus away from our soil, deplete its financial support, but ultimately we must realize that as long as the third world is a swamp, it will breed terrorist mosquitoes. Bug-lights and fly swatters will not save you. As long as there is one demented ideological zealot capable of strapping on a little C-4, or who can find a surrogate adolescent, there will be terrorism.
If you want a preview of how the war on terrorism will go, watch the Israelis. They have been fighting terrorism for a half century. Have you read the report card? Therein lies the template for your holy war on terror. Or would you prefer the war on drugs? How's that one going? Are we winning? Is there at least tangible progress?
The so-called war on terror is a dangerous misnomer for it suggests a military solution. There is none. Three years and a couple hundred billion dollars into this adventure, we have not been able to provide an measurable sign of progress. Osama Bin Laden and much of his inner circle remains at large. We have Saddam Hussein, but he was a tyrant, not a terrorist. Even if we had Bin Laden, another would rise in his place. Even if we eradicated Al Qaeda, there are plenty of other organizations waiting to take up the slack and even more waiting to be born. Mosquitoes.
Similar to the effort required in World War II, we cannot simply send our children out to battle the enemy. There are issues of security at home. Issues that require vigilance by our government, our institutions, our corporations and our citizens. So yes, we will stand in lines in front of metal detectors, arrive at airports well before departure and no public gathering will be safe. This is virtually independent of the success of military exploits.
And both situations are virtually independent of the situational limbo now referred to as Gitmo. Sure there was information to be garnered from some of those captured in Afghanistan, but there is also a timeline and the immutable laws of diminishing returns. I question the value of any three-year-old tidbit of data to be extracted from some incarcerated Talibani at this point. More importantly, if released - these prisoners would be free to become mosquitoes again and that should not be permitted. But as it increasingly becomes apparent to the American public that there is no timeframe for this action that we are still calling a war - we become less comfortable with the incarceration of people at the will of the executive branch of this government without reasonable due process.
We are a nation built on due process. We demand it of ourselves for ourselves. We do not like nor trust closed and hidden systems. We have come not only to demand but to expect justice from our nation and cannot accept justice denied within our borders - and therein lies the problem and perhaps the very reason why Gitmo is beyond our borders. Out of sight, out of mind. Whether intentional or not, Gitmo is a test of our very principles - it tests the metal of our own values.
I have little doubt that most of the inmates of Gitmo are enemies of the United States, I suspect many would qualify as evil. But without an open process to examine the merits of each individuals case, we perpetrate an injustice and open ourselves to the possibility of more by silent if not willing acceptance. This invites a greater evil - that of the disregard for our own values and freedoms. If in the name of security, we blindly accept the potential abuse of those who would be our enemy, and show callous disregard for the right of a human being to defend himself from the accusations of terrorism by our nation, we have already submitted ourselves to the enslavement of our own fears.
I do not so much care if there are abuses at Gitmo or not, I care that I have no sure way of knowing. I do not care so much as to their treatment but as to whether there are those among them who we no longer have cause to detain - for what assurance do we have that there is justice here? If we allow injustice to be acted in our name, what God-given right will keep us from our own injustice?
Jail of our own making indeed.
(my apologies - i can't seem to find the post ducadmo linked to.)