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Muda69

Gitmo Preps for an Upgrade

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This monument to the war on terror is still open, and it’s costing taxpayers a fortune.: http://reason.com/archives/2019/02/12/gitmo-preps-for-an-upgrade

Quote

Whether the U.S. manages to broker a peace with the Taliban or not, one legacy of the war on terror remains—the prison at Guantanamo Bay (also called Gitmo). At its height, this symbol of Bush administration power held 600 people. And as miserable as the infrastructure reportedly is down there, its commander, Navy Rear Admiral John Ring, says he could fit 200 more people if given an increase in the same number of soldiers. He'd rather have an influx of money, however.

So there were once 600 prisoners. Now there are only 40. Forty people being watched over by 1,700 soldiers. Forty people who have been held in limbo for going on two decades now. Some of them, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are clearly mass murderers who should still have their trial (and if he ever does, the torture he suffered will be a terrific coup for his defense). Others linger in prison, not charged, not freed, and generally making a mockery of the whole American concept of a speedy trial. The spooky thing is how comfortable the country became with letting people stay in prison without trial.

You might recall that President Obama made a campaign promise to close Gitmo. His efforts petered out once people realized criminal trials of the remaining detainees would take place in the continental U.S. And in fact, the public—particularly the Republican public—has long been opposed to shutting the place down and letting detainees face trial. Obama clearly had little interest in using his political capital on forcing the issue. Now, President Trump heartily supports the prison, and the most recent omnibus spending bill involved a heaping $115 million just for permanent troop barracks (plus more than $85 million in other costs).

 

Under Trump, neoconservatives are beloved allies, and worrying about Gitmo is so early aughts. But it's still there. In fact, the U.S. appears to be taking the idea of sending a fresh crop of 50 or so accused ISIS fighters (out of nearly 1,000) there, particularly if the American withdrawal from Syria actually goes through.

The military preference is to send suspects back to their country of origin, and have them be prosecuted there. However, that obviously doesn't always work out in a war not fought against nation states. Plus, dependable warmongers of today, including Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio want to add some fresh ISIS blood to Gitmo. This is in spite of the potential for the whole thing to backfire on hawks. A 2017 Heritage Foundation study cautioned that ISIS prisoners would have a particularly strong case against being held there, thanks to the legality of the war against them being itself on shaky—or at least unchallenged—ground. Whether ISIS fighters end up in Gitmo or not, Trump is not likely to be worrying about whether the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force legalizes the war against ISIS. However, the current plan is that Guantanamo Bay will continue operating for the next two and a half decades. It seems unlikely that most or even many prisoners will get a trial during that time.

If the problem of indefinite detainment doesn't strike your fancy, or you're just used to it by this point, there's always the fact that Gitmo is appallingly expensive. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that the prison costs $454 million to operate every year. In 2013, that amounted to $11 million for every prisoner. Since it opened, the prison has cost taxpayers nearly $5 billion.

Another strange-to-comprehend cost is the looming fact of Gitmo's population aging. According to NBC, detainees' "average age is 46, and one is now 71." As expensive as the prison is for taxpayers, the reality is that government-funded elderly prisoner care is always going to come at an insane cost. The secretive Camp 7, home of the most 15 most valuable prisoners, is reportedly in the worst kind of shape, and is cracking and sinking. Congress has doled out money for a medical center for detainees, and for various resources to keep troops moderately well-fed and clothed. However, they refuse to approve funds for new facilities for detainees. Unsurprisingly, most of the more than $350 million Congress has set aside for Gitmo is for the benefit of the base, not the actual prison.

For those who believe Gitmo to be a humanitarian and civil liberties horror, it's difficult to know what to support. Inhumane conditions are not acceptable, but the absurdly bloated costs are also wildly unnecessary.

Congress could give Gitmo the $69 million Ring says they need to make a cheaper, more sustainable prison. Or they could withhold it and let these unsympathetic rogues age and suffer indefinitely. But we don't need to waffle, Obama-style, because Trump has declared Gitmo an "enduring mission" that will last long after his presidency. This is another legacy of the war on terror that we can't rid ourselves of, or even begin to imagine that such a thing is possible.

Agreed.  Gitmo needs to be closed, and then torn down.  

As for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,  his torture is probably  the reason why he hasn't had a trial.   Easier for the government to let him rot in jail then risk exposing the atrocities perpetrated by fellow Americans.  Cowardly.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Impartial_Observer said:

I believe this article is wrong, Gitmo has been closed for nine years. The greatest Republican of all time John McCain was supporting it. 

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/22/guantanamo.order/index.html

Obama signed the executive order to start the shutdown, which was supposed to happen within a year of the executive order, but it never officially ended up being closed down.  Even when Obama left office, despite plenty of activity trying to transfer detainees out of Gitmo so that it could be effectively closed down, he still had 41 prisoners that were passed on to Trump who is dead-set against closing the facility.  The biggest issue that stood in the way of closing Gitmo was Congressional action that forbid Gitmo detainees from being transferred to mainland prisons.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/19/politics/obama-final-guantanamo-bay-transfer/index.html

 

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10 minutes ago, foxbat said:

Obama signed the executive order to start the shutdown, which was supposed to happen within a year of the executive order, but it never officially ended up being closed down.  Even when Obama left office, despite plenty of activity trying to transfer detainees out of Gitmo so that it could be effectively closed down, he still had 41 prisoners that were passed on to Trump who is dead-set against closing the facility.  The biggest issue that stood in the way of closing Gitmo was Congressional action that forbid Gitmo detainees from being transferred to mainland prisons.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/19/politics/obama-final-guantanamo-bay-transfer/index.html

 

Much like the wall and healthcare reform, BHO had two years and nothing happened. Two sides of the same coin. 

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15 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Much like the wall and healthcare reform, BHO had two years and nothing happened. Two sides of the same coin. 

I wouldn't necessarily lump all of those together.  Trump never really pushed the wall until the very end of his first two years and, even then it was more because of mid-terms or reaction to mid-terms.  Similarly, with healthcare, there wasn't really a plan with healthcare.  Obama had been working on it throughout the first two years, but took too much of a traditional approach to doing it. Frankly, IMO Obama should have been the "dictator" that the GOP claimed he was and said screw it/do it.  He tried to do it rationally early on with commissions/panels and that just got tangled up in mess after mess.  Eventually, after losing the House, he was pretty much screwed at that point on this ... especially when the option necessary to make it work was turn them all lose, turn them over to foreign holding, or transfer them to mainland prisons.  The last of those was killed off by Congress, the middle one was heavily impeded by Congress, including Democrats worried about attachments that had been added to the bills, and the first was never a real option. 

While not complete, the New Yorker had a really nice, fairly comprehensive piece on the slip-ups and issues at play: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/01/why-obama-has-failed-to-close-guantanamo.  The Guardian also had a pretty good article on the missteps that Obama had that allowed folks who wanted to keep Gitmo open to be able to pushback and thwart the efforts to close it: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/24/obama-guantanamo-bay-closure-republicans.

 

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It was a central theme in BHO's 08 campaign. A bid deal was made of the XO the day he was inaugurated. He had the entire executive and legislative branches of government. He ramrodded healthcare down our throats, if it was that important to him, I would have assumed he'd done the same thing with Gitmo.

Trump campaigned on healthcare reform and a wall. The R's have had SEVEN years to come up with a plan on healthcare reform and couldn't pull it off. Again R's held the executive and legislative branches for two years and only managed a half-assed tax clusterfu.... Now suddenly after after the mid-terms this wall is uber-important. 

I'll give the D's credit, when they're in charge they have to stones to ram stuff down the American people's throats. But when the R's are in charge, they don't have the stones to do jack squat.

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On 2/13/2019 at 4:00 PM, Impartial_Observer said:

It was a central theme in BHO's 08 campaign. A bid deal was made of the XO the day he was inaugurated. He had the entire executive and legislative branches of government. He ramrodded healthcare down our throats, if it was that important to him, I would have assumed he'd done the same thing with Gitmo.

Trump campaigned on healthcare reform and a wall. The R's have had SEVEN years to come up with a plan on healthcare reform and couldn't pull it off. Again R's held the executive and legislative branches for two years and only managed a half-assed tax clusterfu.... Now suddenly after after the mid-terms this wall is uber-important. 

I'll give the D's credit, when they're in charge they have to stones to ram stuff down the American people's throats. But when the R's are in charge, they don't have the stones to do jack squat.

To be fair, said "ramming" included some 309 GOP-offered amendments, 188 of which were adopted. plus an additional 20 bi-partisan amendments of which 17 were adopted.  In addition, there were 79 committee hearings as well as a CBO scoring of the plan.  The Senate Finance Committee spent more time in mark-up on that bill than any bill in the last 20 years.  It took a full 8 months AFTER the bill left the House before the Senate voted on it.   Another example, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held 14 bipartisan round-table meetings and 13 public hearings.   Also, given the time gap just from the House vote to the Senate vote, and the fact that the summer break for Congress fell into that time zone, there were MANY townhalls conducted on both sides that allowed for several unsavory narratives to come into play such as death panels which helps to "expand the debate further."  

As for GOP ramming, or perhaps just Trump ramming, we're all about to get a peak at that ... most likely today ... when Congressional money gets re-appropriated for a wall that is unlikely to work.  This is where the test of GOP stones will come into play.  For all of the talk on the Constitution, etc. if Congress, especially the GOP Congressmen, let this go through without a fight, it may be the last of things that they stood for being let go along with balanced power, fiscal conservatism, free trade, strong US allies, and comprehensive immigration reform.  

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