Ressam and Gitmo back in the news
Lock up the millennium bomber and shut down the shameful detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The last gasp of a decade-long legal battle over Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam’s prison sentence makes the unspoken point: the U.S. has the capacity to keep him and other terrorists behind bars. In his case, for 37 years. Part of the empty rhetoric around closing Gitmo was there was no place to put the detainees from distance battlefields.
A recently completed government report affirms the obvious conclusion, there are lots of places. In fact the General Accounting Office identified six Department prisons and 98 Justice Department prisons that would work, with some modifications and shuffling of current inmates.
President Obama campaigned in 2008 on closing Guantanamo, and ordered the closure after he took office in 2009. Republicans led the effort to deny him the money, and he signed a defense budget that included the prohibition. Now he has renewed the fight, and the $114 million a year to run Gitmo would have other uses.
Ressam was part of a plot to set off a bomb at the Los Angeles International Airport. An alert border agent at the ferry landing in Port Angeles effectively prevented a tragedy.
Opponents of closing Gitmo are antsy about bringing dubious detainees and torture victims to U.S. soil and U.S. laws. Those pesky rules are not an issue in Cuba. So we keep hearing about life on the island, on and off the base.
Communities around the country, where local jails and prisons closed for lack of funds, have long offered to house the Gitmo detainees. That the federal government has its own facilities has been officially confirmed. Close Gitmo and put the detainees on trial, in public. Use the opportunity to flaunt the values and rule of law we’ve invested blood and treasure to establish elsewhere.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics