These are the times that try JelloHeads’ souls. Believe me, I know its hard to stay focused on the real issues that matter in our country and in our world right now, when all around us we hear about distracting details. I myself almost starting writing a post this morning on the fact that Sarah Palin has 7 pairs of eyeglasses that cost $350-$400 each (before lenses). Fascinating in an Imelda Marcos kind of way? Hell yeah. Crucial? Er, not so much.
Meanwhile, buried in the New York Times online “Other News” section today is this headline:
Bush Decides to Keep Guantánamo Open
Why is this important? Well, there’s a silly little right that is a foundation of our rights in this democratic society, called habeas corpus. And the Bush Administration is flushing it down the toilet:
Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials.
Mr. Bush’s top advisers held a series of meetings at the White House this summer after a Supreme Court ruling in June cast doubt on the future of the American detention center. But Mr. Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guantánamo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon, the officials said.
Now, this may not seem as interesting to you as Sarah Palins’ eye glasses. But if we value our rights as American citizens, and if we care at all about human rights, we need to stop spending our time on Sarah Palin’s SNL appearance, John McCain’s tongue wagging — which does creep me out in the most vile way, and whether Obama visitng his sick grandmother will have an effect on the polls. Yes, I am guilty of being distracted by all of these things. But I had a wakeup call when I read this paragraph:
Mr. Cheney and his chief of staff, David S. Addington, have made it clear in the internal discussions this year that keeping Guantánamo open under a new president would validate the administration’s decisions dealing with terrorists, the officials said.
And if you think the a President McCain would right this terrible wrong, think again:
Since the Supreme Court decision in June, Mr. Bush and his aides have remained focused on legal strategies for coping with the wave of habeas corpus appeals now flooding the federal court system and seeking new legislation that would allow the government to continue to hold foreign terrorists without charge.
A version of that legislation was introduced by Senators Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, two of Mr. McCain’s closest friends and advisers. But the legislation stalled and appears unlikely to be adopted during the current session of Congress.
The is it, folks. There are people being held illegally in our name as American citizens. It’s wrong, it’s immoral, and it’s unjust.
Mr. Obama promises to abolish military tribunals and conduct a review to determine which prisoners to prosecute, which to hold under the laws of war and which to release. His proposal does not specify where detainees would be held.
It’s a start.