I was wondering how I was going to respond to John Oliver’s ignorant Guantanamo diatribe. It’s longer than it should be, but I went through it, taking notes.
Frankly, I might not have watched this at all. But the first report I’ve seen on it mentioned an “innocent” detainee without naming him. I knew he wasn’t really innocent, of course, but my curiosity got the best of me. So, I watched it all.
Still, I thought there’s simply too much there, and too much wrong, for me to write a quick post. Fortunately, Mike Brown of Inverse selected a few key items to cry about, and I can focus on those. He started with the notable ex-Gitmo detainee:
Shaker Aamer read Harry Potter during his 13 years in Guantanamo Bay, where he was held without charge. The idea of Azkaban, a wizard prison where all the world’s happiness is sucked away by monsters, felt very similar to his situation. It’s a bleak description, but despite efforts to close the facility, Guantanamo has remained open and could soon get a whole lot worse. John Oliver gave a sharp reminder on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight episode that power over the facility may soon transfer to Donald Trump.
There are several points of contention right here in this paragraph.
Let’s start with the “held without charge” nonsense. I covered that deception before. In a nutshell, it wasn’t a crime for a non-American to fight for the Taliban or Al Qaeda. We locked up thousands of German soldiers in WWII even though it wasn’t a crime for them to be members of the German army. That’s the way things work in wars. That’s why the Supreme Court says Guantanamo is legal.
So, any time someone says a Gitmo detainee is “held without charge” or “never charged with a crime,” you should know you’re being tossed an irrelevancy.
Much of Brown’s article repeats Oliver’s confusion over this, referring to detainees “who the U.S. believes have committed crimes, but there is not enough evidence to bring them to trial.” Well, not exactly. That’s only technically true in a few cases, and not relevant because it’s not the reason we’re holding them. (The above linked blog post goes into this further.) The fact is, if it was really only a matter of crimes and trials, the Supreme Court would probably have closed Guantanamo a decade ago.
On Shaker Aamer’s “13 years in Guantanamo Bay”: There are three things wrong here. First, he had a tribunal, annual reviews, and then a habeas review by a federal judge. It was legal to hold him. Second, he had been approved for conditional release years ago. The critics will often repeat this part, pretending they don’t understand this, as if it was an evil glitch in the bureaucracy. And to be fair, most of the critics are simply ignorant on this matter, having been deliberately kept so by the upper tier of the far left. Oliver and Brown had been misled, just like everyone else.
Third: The reason he wasn’t released is because he didn’t want to go home. You see, “home” for Shaker Aamer wasn’t in England. He was only approved for release to his real home, Saudi Arabia, and their jihadi rehabilitation program. (Here’s a clue, folks: Shaker Aamer doesn’t want to be rehabilitated!) And unlike the John Olivers of this world, the Saudis weren’t stupid enough to fall for this stuff. They wanted him back. It may not seem like it sometimes but al Qaeda is an enemy of the Saudi government. I would have preferred Guantanamo, too.
Then there’s “the idea of Azkaban.” This is also plainly stupid, although it is clever the way Aamer plays lefties like the violin. I can imagine him laughing at them after he leaves the interview. An actual feeling of hopelessness would require Gitmo detainees being held unjustly. I already said they’re being held legally. It would only be unjust if the detainees really opposed al Qaeda and their jihad. Shaker Aamer does not.
He opposes ISIS, of course. They’ll all say that, and a lot of these reporters will lap it up. But it’s another irrelevancy. ISIS is an enemy of Al Qaeda. It means nothing for Gitmo detainees to say they oppose it.
Aamer will go a step further. He’ll say he opposes attacks in the U.K., and on civilians in general. Attacks on American or British forces overseas are another matter. He won’t say he opposes those, and the reporters aren’t going to ask him.
Oliver and Brown talk about “the beliefs the country was founded on” and “standing up for our highest ideals, even when it requires accepting a certain amount of risk.” They seem utterly clueless that the men who founded this country designed the system exactly this way: to hold enemy combatants until the end of a war. The media may not be aware of this, but the Supreme Court is.
And yes, I know, somebody’s going to whine about POW status. Don’t. That’s only for enemy combatants who qualify. The men who designed that system did so with the understanding that not every prisoner qualified.
That leaves the “sharp reminder” that Trump may (if we’re lucky) get the keys to Guantanamo next January, as if there’s some threat in that. I’ll have to leave that for another time. John Oliver is truly clueless.