Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dungeons & Detainees

Dear Mr. President:

There it goes. "Growing concerns over closing Guantanamo." It's as if people think that the detainees are going to be released into the air like a flock of doves. How hard is it for people to grasp that the detainees will be moved from one maximum-secuity prison (Guantanamo) to another maximum-security prison, where they will be treated like dangerous criminals who nonetheless have the right to know what they have been accused of and who their accusers are. Those rights, along with knowing that they will have a fair trial, are basic, fundamental, Founding Fathers protections built into the structure of the nation. Throwing somebody into a dungeon for an indefinite period of time without letting him know who is accusing him of what, is more characteristic of the Inquisition, the Roman Empire, ancient Egypt, the Third Reich. But the US in the 21st century?? What generated this wrinkle in time? Solar activity? A black hole?

Well, there goes the new, improved America that people hoped for when they voted you into office. We knew it was too good to be true. All it took was scaring people into believing that, if Guantanamo were closed, there would soon be enemy combatants running around their neighborhoods. The attention is now off rebuilding the economy and getting the tripartite federal government back into balance. (Did they ever find out where the Office of the Vice President fits in?)

Guantanamo is an archaic dungeon. It doesn't belong in this century.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dear Mr. President

So, our Hero has feet of clay. When pressed by civil-rights groups as to whether you will allow a central 9/11-style commission under the Attorney General to investigate the torture issue, you repeatedly and curtly dismissed the idea. The reason you gave was that it would require too much time.

If my parents were murdered, and the police department stated that they didn't want to redirect any forensics or investigative personnel to investigate the crime because it would take too much time away from their current investigations, would you find that acceptable?

I believe you need to rethink your decisions regarding investigating the previous administration. If a sense of betrayal has reached all the way down through the grassroots to me and motivated me to write to the President, there must be a powerful, pervasive sense of betrayal among the people you represent.

When questioned about continuing the tribunals at Guantanamo rather than providing the detainees with legitimate trials, you said that it didn't help to compare you to the previous administration. This doesn't sound like the man who calmly and methodically countered the verbal attacks aimed at him by Clinton and McCain during the campaign. This is a swing from "conciliatory" all the way to "unreasonable."

I hope the shift is for good reasons. You are a deep thinker and seem to be able to outthink just about everyone in D.C. From my perspective deep in the grassroots, I would be relieved if a thorough investigation into the activities of the previous administration proved that no crimes were committed. And I would like to think that your reasons for obstructing that investigation and stonewalling on the matter are good, solid, honorable reasons. "It would divide the nation" is an honorable reason, but it's not solid. The nation is already critically divided. "We can't divert resources from rebuilding the economy" is also not solid. The personnel needed for the investigation would not make much of a dent in what is needed to rebuild the economy. I'd like to think that your reasons are sounder than these.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said that it is absurd to think that the U.S. is incapable of incarcerating dangerous criminals. Close Guantanamo, by executive order if necessary. Allow the detainees the benefit of habeas corpus. And allow an investigation of the previous administration and, if possible, clear their good names.