As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bipartisan Fear

So when Republicans make the stupidest argument in the world and Democrats decide to go along with it rather than refute it, we get this unsurprising piece of public opinion:

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to closing the detention center for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay and moving some of the detainees to prisons on U.S. soil, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, those surveyed say Guantanamo shouldn't be closed. By more than 3-1, they oppose moving some of the accused terrorists housed there to prisons in their own states.

The findings underscore the difficult task President Obama faces in convincing those at home that he should follow through on his campaign promise to close the prison in Cuba, especially in the absence of a plan of where the prisoners would go.

In many parts of the world, however, Gitmo has become a symbol of U.S. arrogance and abuse, and Obama has cited its closure as a way to lay the foundation for better relations. He is scheduled to deliver a major address aimed at the Muslim world on Thursday from Cairo.

It is one of the few subjects on which most Americans side with the views of the Bush administration over its successor.

Obama has actually tried to turn this one around, but with no allies, he cannot do it all.

Meanwhile, another prisoner committed suicide yesterday at Guantanamo.

Putting people in cages for life with no charges -- thousands of miles from their homes -- is inherently torturous. While Salih acknowledged fighting for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance, there is no evidence that he ever engaged in or planned to engage in terrorist acts or acts of violence of any kind against the U.S. Apparently, though, he's one of the Worst of the Worst we keep hearing about -- Too Dangerous To Release even if we can't charge him with any crime [...]

As today's NYT article put it: "detainees lawyers, including those representing other Yemeni detainees, have been saying that many prisoners are desperate and that many are suicidal because they see no end to their detention." It's the system of indefinite detention with no trials, not the locale of the cage, that is so oppressive and destructive.

Those Gitmo detainees are such the worst of the worst that some are engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, always the first resort of a hardened terrorist.

A group of Muslims from China awaiting a court-ordered release staged a self-styled protest inside their prison camp Monday, waving signs demanding their freedom written in crayon on their Pentagon-issued art supplies.

''We are the Uighurs,'' said one sign. "We are being oppressed in prison though we had been announced innocent.''

Another: "We need to freedom.''

In the article, one Navy chief says the protest proves how free the Uighurs are. This chief was reportedly a real human being and not a George Orwell character.

Some of our better members of Congress, like Russ Feingold and Jerrold Nadler are stepping up and holding hearings on the proposed system of indefinite detention and the official secrecy surrounding it. But until the Democratic leadership backs up these efforts with advocacy and reassurance to their constituents, nothing will change. Given those fresh poll numbers for them to cower in fear at, my expectations are low.

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