Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo castigated President Obama’s decision to ban torture and close Guantanamo in a January 29 Wall Street Journal opinion column that somehow avoided the use of the word "torture." As we shall see, his column was a dance of obviously false assumptions and false conclusions designed to justify the Bush policy of torture (in his column Woo calls it "tough interrogation") and endless detention without trial.
The Department of Defense claimed in a dramatic press briefing on January 13 that “61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight” of terrorism. This figure has been repeated incessantly since that time by the mass media, often without the “or suspected of” qualifier in the statement.
President Barack Obama signed three executive orders on the first full day of his presidency, January 21, to (1) ban the use of torture, (2) close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, and (3) review of detention policies for terrorist suspects, along with a review of cases for existing inmates.
The new and heavily liberal legislative bodies now ensconced in Washington and in many statehouses across the nation now pose a slow equivalent to the march on Lexington and Concord that sparked the American Revolution. Taxation, regulation, and government inroads into personal liberty, including gun control, are now proliferating.
During his last full day in office, President George W. Bush has commuted the sentences of former Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. The president had been under pressure from grass-roots organizations (including the John Birch Society), concerned members of Congress, and outraged citizens regarding the trial of the former agents and their subsequent mistreatment in prison.
No sane person wants innocent people victimized, maimed, or murdered, nor to see the perpetrators escape justice. This is true, whether the perpetrators use their hands or objects — like baseball bats, rocks, knives, vehicles, or a host of other readily available inanimate objects of endless variety — or a firearm. It is the intent and the will of the criminals, and not the inanimate objects they use, that are responsible for the criminal acts and the harm done to victims.
Marine Sgt. Heather Cerveny has exposed torture at Guantanamo, despite high-level pressure to suppress the information. Though the military initially dismissed her allegations, the patriotic Marine sergeant has now been vindicated.
The bipartisan report on detainee torture at Guantanamo (pdf) released by the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 11 did a good job of telling Americans what they should have long known:
Consider this incredible sequence of events. A young American citizen was invited to study in a Middle Eastern country. Having arrived there, the dictatorship running the country kidnapped him and held him in solitary confinement for seven years without a trial. The dictatorship didn't just incarcerate him, they stubbornly refused to charge him with a crime during his incarceration. His family and friends have petitioned for his release, but the dictator vaguely insists he was a subversive and intended to attack his country — though the ruler stubbornly refuses to provide any details about how this might have happened. Release of these details — even seven years later — would jeopardize "national security." But it's also widely known that this person was apprehended unarmed and had not engaged in any violence.
Last month, a consortium of human-rights groups from the University of California at Berkeley released a report entitled Guantanamo and Its Aftermath: U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices and Their Impact on Detainees [pdf]. Its 136 pages prove in dispassionate prose allegations that Americans passionately debate: the U.S. government imprisoned mostly innocent men, without trial or criminal charges, at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, abused a great many of them, and tortured some.
Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon issued a release order on November 20 for five Algerian prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The Algerians had been locked up in Guantanamo for seven years without a trial, and Leon dismissed the government claims that they stay locked up based upon one anonymous government source that the administration would not let the court question or review.