A Guantanamo Exit Strategy

We are engaged in a war to protect the civilian population. We are following the traditional laws of war. We are treating people humanely. That is different than oppressing people to keep yourselves in power. … And if indeed it puts us with less diplomatic leverage, that has to be weighed against the very real needs of fighting and winning this war.

Lee Casey on Open Source

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So it’s been four years since the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo. Four years that have seen allegations of torture and abuse, a number of releases, but only a handful of charges — the first of which, a conpiracy charge against a Yemeni named Salim Hamdan, was contested in federal courts and is now up for review by the Supreme Court in a couple of weeks. Last month, UN human rights investigators called for Gitmo to be shut down. And last week, more than 250 doctors condemned the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners.

It seems like a good time to ask whether Guantanamo is now a permanent state of affairs or whether there’s any way out of what is increasingly a global PR nightmare for the Bush Administration. So: What should we do next? Do the military commissions that will try Gitmo prisoners really stand on sound legal legs? If not, can we hold prisoners indefinitely until the end of the war (and how do you define that?) to avoid exposing sensitive evidence in a court martial or a US federal court? Is the pressure of world public opinion driving the U.S. to use other more secretive prisons for newer or more important detainees? Are Gitmo prisoners learning to hate the U.S. so much that they’ll be more dangerous when they’re released than when they went in?

David Cole

Legal affairs correspondent, The Nation

Professor, Georgetown Law

Katherine Newell Bierman

Counterterrorism Counsel, US Program, Human Rights Watch

Lee Casey

Partner, Baker Hostetler

Co-author, Bush’s Good Day in Court, Washington Post oped from August 4, 2004

Joe McMillan

Partner, Perkins Coie

Counsel for Salim Hamdan, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Extra-Credit Reading

BBC News, UN calls for Guantanamo closure, February 16, 2006.

BBC News, Doctors attack US over Guantanamo, March 10, 2006.

Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online Gitmo by Any Other Name…is still necessary June 15, 2005.

Larry Neumeister, Associated Press, AP Sues U.S. to Get Guantanamo Documents, April 20, 2005.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, TPMCafe, What’s at Stake in the Torture Debate, December 20, 2005.

Brandt Goldstein, Slate, Clinton’s Guantanamo: how the Democratic president set the stage for a land without law, December 21, 2005.

Brian J. Foley, Jurist, Why the U.S. Doesn’t Care about GTMO, and Why They Should, November 1, 2005.

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