Guantanamo may move, but it’s not closing

This column from the Jerusalem Post caught my eye: Rule of Law: If Guantanamo closes, are West Bank courts next?

The writer appears to be under the illusion that all the Gitmo detainees will get civilian trials or be freed. That makes him wonder whether such a victory for the critics would then put more pressure on Israel’s own use of administrative detention. He writes that both systems “face fierce global and internal criticism regarding their legitimacy and fairness.” So, if we close ours, then the entire focus will be on Israel — as if that would then be the only other thing left for the world to complain about.

Well, fear not. I discussed this in Guantanamo Clarity, and the basic circumstances are not changing. The detention camp at Guantanamo may be moving, but it’s not closing. I am not saying Obama will continue to be stymied by Congress (although I do hope that he is). I am saying that his intention was never to let every detainee go.

It’ll be just like Guantanamo but with a different climate.

President Obama’s plans originally suggested the detainees would be moved to a civilian federal prison in the U.S. Now, it doesn’t even look like it’ll be a civilian facility. His latest plan is to move them into a military prison. Some detainees would be transferred to other countries, but that’s happening anyway, regardless whether Gitmo remains where it is.

Detainees who cannot be charged and tried in a courtroom will still not be charged and tried.

You might wonder what there is to gain from this. The conditions for the detainees can’t get any better than where they are now. Guantanamo can afford to be a bit like a minimum security prison where it is now. They can’t safely do that within the U.S. The only benefit to the detainees would be in having something new to complain about.

Guantanamo was always the moral solution among unpleasant alternatives.

Remember that when President Obama signed his executive order on “closing” Guantanamo, Democrats still had both the House and Senate under their control. It was during this period that they passed laws restricting the use of funds to transfer detainees into the U.S.

Among Democrats in the House and Senate, very few really want Guantanamo closed, other than by moving it elsewhere. Senator Dick Durbin wants it moved, but first suggested using a currently empty prison in his home state. Now he still wants it moved, but he wants it moved elsewhere. It’s all a charade.


Thanks to Ace of Spades

Best Sellers in 21st Century American History
I’m late in thanking OregonMuse of Ace of Spades for plugging my book on the Sunday Morning Book Thread.

Everyone’s purchases (thanks!) boosted me up on Amazon’s ranks, putting me just below Charles Krauthammer, and a few rungs above Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower.

The Sunday Morning Book Thread is a weekly feature at Ace of Spades, and always worth looking for.

And if you haven’t yet bought a copy, This Is War! Quit Sniveling is still only 99 cents.

The Triad is not relevant to ISIS or Iran

I’m a long-time Powerline fan, but they’re completely off-base on what they call “Trump’s nuclear howler.” I’m a fan of Hugh Hewitt, too, but he wasted a question when he brought the “nuclear triad” up at the debate.

On the face of it, they’re right. Trump didn’t seem to know what the nuclear triad is. As most readers of this blog know, the U.S. has nuclear weapons on missiles, submarines and bombers. The concept of the “triad” is having nukes on all three platforms, should one become ineffective. For example, if the Russians suddenly perfect a missile defense system, we will still have our bombers and submarines as deterrents.

But this isn’t the 1980s. The triad is still important, but it’s only relevant to the balance of power between the U.S. and the Russians. Even if China is considered a threat, they don’t have enough nukes to change whether or not we need to devote more of our own nukes to bombers, missiles or submarines. Iran’s potential inventory will be insignificant to this equation. It’s not that they wouldn’t be problems in major ways. It’s just that they’re not relevant to the triad.

The bottom line is, the triad is not an election issue. If Hugh Hewitt wanted another gotcha question, couldn’t he come up with a relevant one?

Daily Mail interviews Shaker Aamer

The U.K. Daily Mail does a pukeworthy article about their interview with Shaker Aamer, the Guantanamo detainee released to the British earlier this year.

As I said briefly in Guantanamo Clarity, Aamer says some nice-sounding things. He does that again in this new piece:

‘The concept of war in Islam is not about indiscriminate killing. It is governed by rules that also cover how you should treat prisoners. If a man is innocent, a man who went to help the people, then you must share your own food with him, and treat him decently.

‘Even if a human being is fighting against you, he should be treated humanely, not tortured or beaten up.’

That’s all well and good, especially if al Qaeda ever does fight that way. I wouldn’t count on it. It didn’t seem to help Daniel Pearl, and I don’t see the Mail bringing him up.

Conspicuously missing: it doesn’t specifically say they asked him about the Taliban and al Qaeda, and whether he’s for ’em or against ’em. That’s who he was assessed to be fighting for.

It’s as though the reporter, David Rose, already knows the answer and chose to map out his questions very carefully. Every word Aamer said here could be literally true regardless of whether or not he’s a jihadi.

Rose gives the standard lines about how Aamer was “under suspicion of terrorist activities without ever being charged,” as though that means anything when it wasn’t a crime under U.S. law for a non-American to lead a Taliban unit or to meet Bin Laden. He was held as an enemy combatant, not as a criminal.

But Rose tosses a ball for us critics to hit back:

And to those who claim he still has ‘questions to answer’ about his supposed support for terrorism, he produced the strongest possible riposte – an unequivocal denunciation of terror attacks on the streets of British cities, such as the 2013 murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby and last week’s stabbing at Leytonstone Tube station.

That’s not a response. Aamer also needs to denounce the jihad in Afghanistan. He is a resident of the U.K., which signed a UNSC resolution calling for an elected government in Afghanistan. Does he support that? His friends don’t. Aamer hasn’t said.

Rose does give the standard line about being held in Guantanamo for over 13 years. He does not say that Aamer could have gone home to Saudi Arabia years earlier, but chose Gitmo instead.

I’ll have to see or read the full interview tomorrow. But, so far, it looks like they put too much lipstick on this guy.

The NYT has his detainee files here:


Not a blog post, per se, but a place to share documents.
I may be adding more into this post periodically.

The Geneva Conventions in the War on Terror

This first is Colin Powell’s response to the draft letter (just below) on the policy regarding whether or not the Geneva Conventions legally apply to this war, given that our enemy is not actually a country:

It was written in reply to a draft memo on the varying alternatives:

Wrong jihadi, but rightly detained

No, they have not found another “wrongly arrested” prisoner in Guantanamo. Detainee Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri wasn’t just some innocent cab driver in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But you might think that if you don’t read more than the headline:
Man held at Guantánamo for 13 years a case of mistaken identity, say officials.

Worse still, RawStory reprinted the same article with this headline:
Guantanamo prisoner has been held for 13 years despite being wrongfully arrested.

You do get closer to the truth when you open either link. The article opens: “Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was low-level Islamist foot soldier, not al-Qaida courier and trainer as had been believed.”

Note: It is legal to detain enemy soldiers during a war. That has always included foot soldiers.

All that’s happened is that he’s not as important as we thought he was. He’s still an admitted jihadi.

Some critics would, of course, want to imagine that his admission doesn’t count because it was made under duress. There are four problems with that. First, he wasn’t one of the two detainees who’d received the roughest treatment at Gitmo. He was never a CIA detainee at one of the “black sites.” He might have had his beard shaved off at Gitmo for six weeks, and possibly had his eight hours of sleep disrupted. Maybe they gave him cold cereal for breakfast instead of pancakes. Not pleasant, but not worth listening to all the fake outrage.

Second, look at his detainee file (as stolen from Wikileaks), and you’d see that he never confessed to what he was wrongly suspected of. It says, “Detainee has not acknowledged associations that have been documented through other sources.” So much for the “false confessions” scenario.

Third, he wasn’t just whisked off the street in Kabul. He was captured while fighting beside a bunch of other jihadis.

And fourth, his tribunal didn’t even mention the identity he was wrongly suspected of. He was properly detained on the basis of who he actually is.

Practically speaking, would he have been kept in Guantanamo for 14 years if we knew he was only a foot soldier?

Yes, probably so, but not because the government would have wanted to keep him. Had he been from Saudi Arabia instead of Yemen, he’d have been transferred to the Saudis’ jihadi rehabilitation program a few years ago. The Obama administration wanted such a program for detainees from Yemen, but that didn’t happen.

Other Yemenis at Gitmo had been released, but mostly only this year. It’s doubtful he’d have been among them.

So, we can tell the critics to put away their hankies.

Children should never be human shields

It is a measure of barbarity that children are used as human shields. That goes up on the scale when it is calculated and premeditated. It flies off the chart when it becomes ingrained into whatever passes for the culture that practices this. And it becomes a danger to us at home when that sickness is brought here to American schools.

And I don’t just mean universities or high schools. This time it’s in the third grade.

Fortunately, Professor Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has been actively bringing this out into the open: Legal Insurrection obtains Temporary Restraining Order preserving records of anti-Israel 3rd Grade event

Follow the links if you’re new to this story.

Things we do in a war

Trump is getting a lot of press, and an appropriate amount of flak, over his idea that we should ban all Muslims from entering the country “until the nation’s leaders can ‘figure out what is going on.’”

Well, banning groups of visitors is one of the things that countries do in a war. There’s nothing new about that, even for the U.S. To my mind, the real problem here is that, as he suggests in this quote, the nation’s leaders haven’t yet figured out what’s going on. We really are at war.

There are only two ways to handle this. Either we fight through, or we seal the gates. If people want those border gates open, as I do (well, with a fence), they need to commit to fighting through.

Trump’s critics are making a lot of noise over this, but they themselves have already got those gates leaning closed. They did this when they asked, after 9/11, “why do they hate us?” and looked at our enemies’ demands as if we should consider accommodating them. They still do this whenever they boycott Israel. And they do this whenever they call for our retreat.

Later addendum: Elizabeth Price Foley on notes that “Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration/entry do not even rise to the level of World War II’s internment of Japanese Americans. His less intrusive measures—aimed at individuals who are outside US borders, not US citizens, and reasonably viewed as a potential threat to US national security interests during a War on Radical Islamic Terror—are clearly constitutional.