What Guantanamo fans don’t understand is that the torture, the “extraordinary renditions”, the failure to respect the Geneva Convention and the utter disregard for basic human rights tainted the Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA prisons worldwide. Justice needs to be done for the victims of terrorist attacks, says Marine prosecutor Major Jeff Groharing, but what about justice for those many detainees wrongly held? What about the torture, stress positions and other abominations inflicted on suspects – not even convicts, but just suspects! Justice is a two-way street.
Taking the Side of the Terrorists?
It’s not about taking the side of the detainees. It’s about doing what’s right. How can there be justice without due process? Just as a coerced confession is thrown out of court, so should the coercion at Guantanamo Bay and the secret CIA prisons render invalid any evidence gained through torture.
“To me it’s beyond comprehension that they would take the side of the terrorists,” said Peter Gadiel, whose son, James, was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. “Many of these people have been released and been right back killing, right back at their terrorist work again.” #
“I see no reason why we should delay these proceedings. Let justice be served,” said Jefferson Crowther, whose 24-year-old son, Welles, was killed in the Twin Towers after he saved the lives of several others. #
Obama’s Decision “Demeans” Victims’ Deaths?
Former Navy Commander Kirk Lippold, under whose watch the USS Cole was bombed in Yemeni port, thinks that President Obama’s decision to suspend military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay “demeans their [sailors’] deaths because we seem to be more concerned with the rights of detainees than we are with the justice that is being denied to my sailors that were killed.” #
Failure to Respect Rights of Accused Dishonors their Memory
But what were the USS Cole sailors doing out there in the first place? Why did they ostensibly join the Navy, if not to protect their country, including its ideals? In the USA we supposedly are innocent until proven guilty and have rights. Snatching unrelated people from faraway lands based on hearsay and a bounty, holding them for years and torturing them dishonors these sailors’ sacrifices. Why else did the sailors serve but to protect the very rights denied to the detainees? As Benjamin H. Friedman said, “The danger to American values comes more from our reaction to terrorism than the thing itself.”
First Step on the Right Path
Sure, there are still many questions to be answered. Where will the truly dangerous detainees go? What will be done with those who face persecution in their home countries? Is it a civil or military matter? But at least President Obama has taken the first step, a step towards righting this horrible wrong, this cancer, this disgrace on the American people. Make sure he keeps his promise and renders justice to these suspects, the sooner the better.