Skip to comments.Guantanamo inmates can be held 'in perpetuity'
Posted on 06/15/2005 3:35:00 PM PDT by AgThorn
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican senators called on Wednesday for the rights of foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay prison to be legally defined even as the Bush administration said the inmates could be jailed there "in perpetuity."
The prison, currently holding roughly 520 inmates, opened on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2002 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Many of the detainees have been held for more than three years, and only four have been charged.
At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said Congress should help to define the legal rights of the inmates at the prison, which the panel's top Democrat called "an international embarrassment."
Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) asked Deputy Associate Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins whether the Justice Department had "defined when there is the end of conflict."
"No, sir," Wiggins responded.
"If there is no definition as to when the conflict ends, that means forever, forever, forever these folks get held at Guantanamo Bay," Biden said.
"It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity," Wiggins said.
Earlier, the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont, said the United States may face terrorism "as long as you and I live." He asked Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, who oversees military trials of Guantanamo prisoners, if that means America can hold prisoners that long without charges.
"I think that we can hold them as long as the conflict endures," Hemingway responded.
"Guantanamo Bay is an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals, and it remains a festering threat to our security," Leahy said.
"Our great country, America, was once viewed as a leader in human rights and the rule of law, and justly so. Guantanamo has undermined our leadership, has damaged our credibility, has drained the world's goodwill for America at an alarming rate," Leahy added.
Critics have decried the indefinite detention of Guantanamo prisoners, whom the United States has denied rights accorded under the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war. The prison, was called "the gulag of our times" in a recent Amnesty International report.
Hemingway said the military commissions created by the Pentagon were the appropriate forum for trying Guantanamo prisoners. Human and legal rights groups have said the rules created by the administration are heavily biased toward the prosecution. The trials have been held up amid legal fights.
Navy Rear Adm. James McGarrah called "rigorous and fair" the Pentagon's annual review of the status of Guantanamo prisoners -- a process that can lead to their release. In those proceedings, detainees are prohibited from having lawyers and cannot see all the government's evidence relating to them.
Lawyers representing Guantanamo prisoners criticized their treatment and the government's system for trying them.
"The (reviews) are a sham," said Joseph Margulies, one of the lawyers. "They mock this nation's commitment to due process, and it is past time for this mockery to end."
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record) of Alabama said: "This country is not systematically abusing prisoners. We have no policy to do so. And it's wrong to suggest that. And it puts our soldiers at risk who are in this battle because we sent them there."
Referring to detainees, Sessions added, "Some of them need to be executed."
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record) of South Carolina joined Specter and others who said Congress needed to get involved to better define the process at Guantanamo.
"I think it would be tremendously helpful if the Congress and the administration came together with some general statutory language to help define what's going on at Guantanamo Bay, to better define what an enemy combatant is, to make sure that due process is affordable," Graham said.
Specter noted that legislation he introduced in 2002 on legal rights of detainees had gone nowhere.
"It may be that it's too hot to handle for Congress, may be that it's too complex to handle for Congress, or it may be that Congress wants to sit back, as we customarily do, awaiting some action with the court no matter how long it takes," he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a year ago that Guantanamo prisoners had the right to seek their release in federal court. But decisions in the lower court have been contradictory, creating what Specter called a "crazy quilt" of rulings.
The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - My Mullah went to Club G'itmo and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
Well, if we decide we can't hold them forever, and they need to be tried, it seems to me that the appropriate thing to do is to give them full due process rights and full-dress criminal trials under the law...of the place they committed their crimes. Which is to say, the republics of Afghanistan and of Iraq, both functioning democracies with legal systems, should be eventually given full custody of these prisoners along with their legal dossiers, to give them appropriate trials. That would, after all, be full due process as required under international law.
We should hold them on a Navy ship about 500 miles from shore. We can't help it if they tried to escape by jumping overboard in the dark of night.
fine with me.
they probably eat better at gitmo than they do at home,
and they probably eat better than sheriff arpaio's inmates in phoenix.
This whole Guantanamo thing burns my buns a bit.
On the one side I agree with the left in that we need to do something ... but I do not agree with what nonsense they say, i.e. 'close the base', 'it's an embarassment', etc.
What moron wants to release these terrorists? Especially knowing what the results of the 'experiment' (I would think it should be called) of when the last '4' that were released, i.e. their showing up to fight our soldiers as soon as they could.
WHY don't we set up a tribunal and trial on each prisoner? It is idiotic to try to hold these creeps till the 'end of the war' or whatever, as there may never be an end of this war. Did we hold the spys we caught till the end of the 'cold war'? No, we tried, convicted and sentenced them. Why is this any different for this 'war on terror' that will probably last as long or longer as the cold war?
In fact, it will last longer precicely because we are NOT doing anything with the prisoners except giving them club med treatment. Who can say that the four that were released and were back fighting our soldiers didn't do it with the hope of getting a trip back to Guantanamo because of all the great accomodations!! ;-)
Enough!!! Set up the tribunal and start to convict, sentence and hopefully have some summary executions and make them public. This war on terror has to quit being so politically correct and start being serious!!! Off with their heads!!
Brit Hume and the roundtable are discussing it now.
What counties do these "foreign terrorism suspects" originate from?
...and we should try to ensure that the ship cruises in the most shark-infested waters we can find.... dump some chum or whatever best tempts sharks to visit, and then 'allow' the terrorists to fall, a few at a time, into the deadly waters..... problem solved!
Terrorist rights defined:
This is an excellent idea. Shoot the rest too.
Substitute the following words "Guantanamo Bay", "it", and replace with "Leahy".
Military trial for the Gitmo illegal combattants? F*** yes.
Sooner rather than later. And televised executions for the guilty. They deserve no less.
True-believing islamonazis don't fear death so much. They DO however, fear being incarcerated for the rest of their natural lives. In addition, they are more susceptible to interrogation when kept long enough. Gitmo is a smart move that proves the current Administration understands the mind of the enemy. The leftist politicians are once again proving themselves weak on defense and strong on criticizing America.
Good idea. Detainees? What detainees?
God forgive us, but there doesn't seem to be another end to this.
I think they'd start smelling bad after 40-60 years.
And just to be on the safe side, do it in The Bermuda Triangle.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.