This week marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. According to the ACLU, 779 men have been imprisoned there at one time. Currently there are 171 being held.
Over the last few days, the New York Times has published 2 stories written by former prisoners. I highly encourage you to read them here and here. I know its a painful past that many of us would like to forget. But letting ourselves forget history is dangerous.
On the other hand, Glenn Greenwald is under the mistaken impression that he can claim some kind of moral high ground and suggest that folks who don't think Ron Paul has anything to add to the current presidential debates want to de-prioritize the issues about Guantanamo due to a blind party loyalty. He couldn't be more wrong.
Lets get a few facts straight.
First of all, no federally elected politician has worked harder to close Guantanamo than President Obama. Of course the main obstacle to doing so over the last 3 years has been Congress.
Secondly, there are some pretty thorny issues that need to be dealt with. Of the 171 people currently detained, 89 have been cleared for release by the government. Why are they still there? In most cases we know that if they were released to their home country, they would face possible torture or death. The administration has been working to find alternatives. One of the issues President Obama identified in the signing statement attached to NDAA was an objection to Congress' attempt to tie his hands in those efforts.
Thirdly, there are currently 46 detainees who have been deemed too dangerous to release. Perhaps we could support President Obama's efforts to defeat al Qaeda, negotiate a settlement with the Taliban, and get out of Afghanistan. An end to the indefinite war would very likely lead to their eventual release. As a matter of fact, several of these men are the one's the administration has been talking about releasing as part of their negotiations with the Taliban. The precedence is being set.
We can all agree that Guantanamo needs to be closed...ASAP. But these are the very real challenges that much be addressed in order to do so.
When/if I finally hear people like Greenwald and Paul getting off their high horse and reaching down into the muck to deal with these kinds of very real issues, I'll agree that they have something to add to the conversation. Until then...not so much.