Posts tagged ‘Guantanamo’

12/17/2014

Guantanamo Bay Base: Give It Up

The U.S. has a Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, on the island of Cuba, has been operated illegally, against the wishes of the Cuban government for 117 years, should now be torn down, and the port should be returned to the Cuban people.

As far back as 1854, the U.S. has made frivolous claims to Cuba. When Franklin Pierce (1853-57) was President, future President James Buchanan, a member of his administration, issued the Ostend Manifesto, which claimed the U.S. had a right to seize the island by force, if Spain refused to sell it. Buchanan was afraid a slave rebellion would turn the island into a disorderly republic, like Haiti, but his real motive was to create another slave state.

After a revolt broke out in 1895 between the Cubans and colonial Spain, the Maine, an American ship, was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898, and though there was no proof the explosion was caused by the Spanish, the U.S. invaded the island and won the Spanish-American War.

When the Americans first occupied the island, they were greeted as liberators, but the mood soon changed, as the newly liberated people were forced, under the Platt Amendment (1901), to grant the U.S. a right to intervene in their internal affairs. Although President Theodore Roosevelt granted independence, under the Cuban-American Treaty (1903), the catch was the Cubans had to give the U.S. a perpetual lease to Guantanamo.

A generation later, President Franklin Roosevelt offered to annul the right to intervene, provided the Cubans signed the Treaty between the U.S. and Cuba (1934), which continued the unwelcome U.S. military presence at Guantanamo. Realizing they would never get a better offer from conservatives in America, the Cubans accepted a half a loaf from the liberal FDR, instead of nothing at all.

The Cubans have since continued protesting the American military presence on the island. When Fidel Castro took over in 1959, he escalated the objection by shutting off the water to the base, in an attempt to get the U.S. to go home, but the Americans started filtering seawater through a desalination plant (1964). Cuba does not cash rental payment checks from the U.S.

The U.S. has no legitimate right to use the Guantanamo Bay Navy Base, as the lease was forced upon Cuba under what international law would refer to as an unequal treaty. Since President Obama promised to close Guantanamo, now would be the perfect time to give it back.

12/17/2014

Cuba: End of U.S. Trade Embargo

The U.S. has had a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962 and it is time to end it. After 52 years, it has no purpose and most people now have no idea why it was imposed in the first place.

The story begins with Gen. Batista, who came to power in a coup backed by the U.S. (1952). He ran a dictatorship that censored the press and suspended constitutional rights (1953). Fidel Castro, a lawyer, led the overthrow of Batista’s regime in the Cuban Revolution (1953-59). While Castro’s dictatorship had some of the same faults as Batista’s, most Cuban people accepted Fidel, because at least he eliminated illiteracy and provided health care.

Anger at Cuba from abroad was not because Batista was removed, but instead due to Fidel’s subsequent confiscation of land from foreigners and the nationalization of U.S.-owned oil refineries, sugar mills, casinos and utilities. What Castro did was not however unique. Scores of nations that declared independence at that time also nationalized their natural resources and industries.

In any event, diplomatic relations with Cuba were severed. When President Kennedy took office, anti-Castro exiles unsuccessfully staged a military invasion at the Bay of Pigs (1961). Once the U.S. banned trade with Cuba (1962), Castro turned to Moscow for help. The Soviets said Cuba had a right to be free of foreign interference and supplied Cuba with weapons for their defense. This is when U.S. reconnaissance observed nuclear weapon sites in Cuba, triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). Although the weapons were removed when the U.S. Navy blockaded the island, the friction between the U.S. and Cuba continued.

The U.S. now trades with the People’s Rep. of China, Vietnam, and other communist countries. There is no logical reason not to trade with Cuba. Fidel Castro recently turned the presidency over to his brother Raul (2008), and soon both of them will be gone.

Today, the streets of Havana still show the effects of 1962 embargo. Most cars pre-date the 1959 revolution and there are no recreational boats in the harbor. Opening trade would not only benefit the Cuban people, it would create jobs for many U.S. businesses and their employees.

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

11/23/2011

Republican Debate Foreign Policy (11-12)

The Republican Presidential candidates debated again on Nov. 12, 2011.

CHINA: Romney said we have something China needs, which is a global market, but they must play by the rules and cannot manipulate currency to cause prices to fall below market levels. He would sue China in the WTO to win the right to selectively impose tariffs. Huntsman said the WTO does not allow us to sue over currency issues, and trade war would only hurt U.S. exports. Perry believes China will end up on the ash heap of history.

EURO: Huntsman warned Europe is second only to Canada as a U.S. export market, and if they go down, it will spread back to us.

RUSSIA: While discussing Iran, Romney sounded like he considered Russia an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. It was not clear if he knew what he was saying.

ISRAEL: Paranoid Bachmann thinks “the table is being set for a worldwide nuclear war against Israel,” as she baselessly accused Obama of not being willing to stand with them.

FOREIGN POLICY: Ron Paul noted our foreign policy is bad, because we pretend we are at war. We are only at war against a tactic, he said. There is in fact no declared war. Gingrich said our foreign aid should start at zero for each country every year. Egypt should explain why they should receive a penny. He would adopt a strong policy against what he called UN “absurdities.” Perry thinks we are in a real war, and would deal with every country, including Israel, by denying foreign aid if they do not support us.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said there is a lack of security in Afghanistan, but it is time to come home. We achieved our objectives by uprooting the Taliban, dismantling al-Qaeda, and killing Osama bin Laden. Elections were held. The U.S. should not use 100,000 troops to do nation-building there. Romney would not negotiate with the Taliban, because he said we don’t negotiate with terrorists. He claims our commanders in the field do not want our troops withdrawn, but Obama is taking them out early. His timetable is to stay until 2014. Perry said he would complete the mission (whatever that means). He thinks we are making progress, and a timetable to pull out is irresponsible. He said our military is doing the best they can, considering the lack of support from the administration, and the telegraphing to the enemy that we are leaving. Santorum said victory over the Taliban does not mean wiping them out, because we can’t do that. It means neutering them, so they are no longer a security threat. Bachmann said Obama sent a surge of only 30,000, instead of the 40,000 requested, and made a fatal decision to withdraw by Sept. 2012. Gingrich said the Taliban survive, because they have sanctuary in Pakistan. Cain was asked what it is about the situation in Afghanistan that has been going on for 10 years that is so unclear that he cannot answer questions about it. He said victory is not clearly defined. He would define the mission.

PAKISTAN: Romney said Pakistan is a fragile nation which is close to a failed state. He wants to make sure they allow us to go after Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Santorum said we cannot be indecisive about whether Pakistan is a friend, because they have nuclear weapons. He would continue aid for Pakistan, and would work through our difficulties. He would work with the Pakistani military and their intelligence network, because they do not back the Haqqani Network. Gingrich said we do not getting reliable intelligence from Pakistan, and we have to rely on friends. Bachmann said Pakistan is a place where terrorists receive training, but she would not deny aid, because they have nuclear weapons. Cain said he didn’t know if Pakistan was a friend or foe.

IRAN: Ron Paul said it is not worth going to war against Iran to prevent them from gaining nuclear weapons. Intervention would have to go through Congress, because the Commander-in-Chief cannot make that decision. What is going on right now is the same war propaganda used against Iraq. If a Declaration of War is made, you fight to win, and get it over with. Romney would support the Iranian dissidents who took to the streets and would impose sanctions. He said Obama should have made it clear we will take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. If Obama is re-elected, he predicted Iran will gain nuclear weapon, but if Romney is chosen, they will not. In addition to crippling sanctions, he would encourage regime change, and if that fails, he would use military force. Perry would sanction the Iranian Central Bank and shut down their economy. Santorum said Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. He hopes we have been acting covertly to make sure it does not happen. He wants to work with Israel and let them take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities, like they did in Iraq and Syria. Gingrich would maximize covert operations to block and disrupt the Iranian program. He would take out their scientists. He would coordinate his efforts with Israel. Cain would assist the Iranian opposition who are trying to overthrow the regime. Because Iran uses oil as a weapon, he wants U.S. energy independence. He would put economic pressure on Iran through sanctions. He would deploy ballistic missile defense Aegis warships in the Persian Gulf.

ARAB SPRING: Cain thinks Obama was on the wrong side in nearly every Arab Spring situation. He thinks Obama mishandled the revolutions. Our relationship with Egypt may not survive, because the Muslim Brotherhood may gain control. Obama said the President of Yemen must go, even though he is our friend.

SYRIA: Ron Paul said the Syrians need to deal with Syria. It is a tragedy many died, but we would only get in trouble if we got into it. We should support self-determination. Romney said it is time for the Assad dictatorship to end. We should help with covert activities. He said Syria is an ally of Iran, and we should aid Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Gingrich said it was good the Arab League suspended Syria. The administration dumped Egypt’s Mubarek in a heartbeat, but did not go after Assad. He would take covert action against Assad.

GUANTANAMO AND TORTURE: Ron Paul correctly pointed out torture is illegal under our laws, and international law. He added water-boarding is torture. He said there is no evidence reliable information is gained. It’s uncivilized and immoral, he said.  Huntsman, who lived overseas four times, said we diminish our standing in the world as to liberty, democracy, and human rights, when we torture. Water-boarding is torture, and we should not use it. Perry is for enhanced interrogation techniques, because he thinks we are involved in a war. Santorum would allow enhanced interrogation techniques, because he thinks they are successful in obtaining information. He would keep Guantanamo open. Bachmann would use water-boarding, because she thinks it is useful for gaining information. She made the ridiculous statement Obama is letting the ACLU run the CIA. She claims Obama wants to lose the war on terror, because we now have no place for terrorists. Cain does not agree with torture, but trusts the military leaders to determine what is, and what is not, torture. He called water-boarding an enhanced interrogation technique, but not torture. He would allow the military to use enhanced interrogation techniques, because he thinks anyone picked up must necessarily be a terrorist.

CIVILIAN COURTS: Paul said over 300 individuals charged with terrorism were convicted in civilian courts and most are in prison. We should not give up so easily on the rule of law, he said. Santorum thinks civilian courts are one of the worst ideas he ever heard of, because people there have constitutional rights. People who attacked our country should not enjoy rights, he said. He also said he believes in the Geneva Conventions, but when they don’t play by the rules, they don’t enjoy rights under Geneva.

ASSASSINATION: Romney said it was correct for the President alone to order the death of American citizens suspected of terrorism. He claimed one individual allied himself with a group that declared war on the U.S. and if they bear arms against us, they are fair game. Gingrich said they were more than suspects. They were found guilty of trying to kill Americans, not by a court, but by a panel. He said enemy combatants have no right to go to court. Waging war on the U.S. is outside criminal law. It is correct to kill people who are trying to kill you.

BUDGET: Huntsman said our debt is a national security risk. Greece has a 170% debt to GDP. Italian debt is 120% to GDP. Japan is 100% debt to GDP. Our debt is 70% to GDP and moving up. We need to send Medicaid and Education back to the states. The Ryan plan puts everything on the table, he said. Romney would eliminate programs we cannot afford, such as Obamacare. That would save 95 billion per year. He would eliminate Public Broadcasting, and the Endowment for the Arts. He would re-direct Medicaid to the states. Gingrich wants the unemployed to receive training, so they do not get something for doing nothing.  Bachmann said the debt is out of control since LBJ created the welfare state. She said military expenditures should also be reduced. Instead of a cost plus billing, we need a fixed cost system. We have to modernize military medical costs. Gingrich thinks the Navy is shrinking and would invest in it and rebuild it.

05/10/2011

Torture: What The Law Says About It

The Geneva Convention, relative to the Treatment of Prisoners-of-War, (as amended 1949) was ratified by every member of the UN, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and the U.S. Those who have prisoners must, as a matter of international law, obey it. Since the treaty cannot be described any better than through its own terms, the following is a series of quotes from the Geneva Convention:

HUMANE TREATMENT: “Prisoners-of-war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission…causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner-of-war, in its custody, is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach.…Prisoners-of-war must at all times be protected particularly against acts of violence” (Art. 13).

NO TORTURE: “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted upon prisoners-of-war to secure from them information of any kind” (Art. 17).

INTERROGATION LIMITS: “Every prisoner-of-war, when questioned… is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number (Art. 17). “Prisoners-of-war, who refuse to answer, may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment, of any kind” (Art. 17).

NO DARK CELLS: “Corporal punishments, imprisonment in premises without daylight and in general, any form of torture or cruelty are forbidden.” (Art. 87).

NO CLOSE CONFINES: Prisoners-of-war may not be held in close confinement except…during…circumstances which make such confinement necessary” (Art. 21).

NO ISOLATION: Prisoners shall not be separated from prisoners-of-war belonging to the armed forces with which they were serving at the time of their capture” (Art. 22).

FOOD: Canteens shall be installed in all camps, where prisoners-of-war may procure foodstuffs, soap and tobacco and ordinary articles in daily use” (Art 28).

SHELTER: Prisoners-of-war shall be quartered under conditions as favorable as those for the forces of the detaining power, who are billeted in the same area….The foregoing provisions shall apply in particular to the dormitories of prisoners-of-war, as regards both total surface and minimum cubic space, and the general installations, bedding, and blankets” (Art 25).

MEDICINE: Medical inspections of prisoners-of-war shall be held at least once a month (Art. 31).

RECREATION: The detaining power shall encourage the practice of intellectual educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games amongst prisoners, and shall take measures necessary to ensure the exercise thereof by providing them with adequate premises and necessary equipment” (Art 38).

MAIL: “In the event a prisoner is transferred, prisoners shall be advised of their new postal address, and allowed to inform their next of kin…Mail and parcels addressed to their former camp shall be forwarded to them without delay” (Art. 48). “Every prisoner-of-war shall be enabled to write direct to his family…informing his relatives of his capture, address and state of health (Art. 70). “Prisoners-of-war shall be allowed to send and receive letters and cards…not less than two letters and four cards monthly” (Art. 71). “Prisoners-of-war shall be allowed to receive…parcels or…shipments containing in particular, foodstuffs, clothing, medical supplies and articles of a religious, educational or recreational character” (Art. 72). “The censoring of correspondence addressed to prisoners-of-war, or dispatched by them, shall be done as quickly as possible” (Art. 76).

RED CROSS: There shall be “no obstacle to the humanitarian activities which the…Red Cross…undertake for the protection of prisoners-of-war, and for their relief” (Art. 9).

ACCESS TO PRISONERS: “Representatives or delegates of the protecting powers, shall have permission to go to all places where prisoners-of-war may be, particularly to places of internment, imprisonment and labor, and shall have access to all premises occupied by prisoners-of-war….They hall be able to interview the prisoners and in particular the prisoners representatives, without witnesses, either personally, or through an interpreter” (Art. 126).

04/07/2011

Guantanamo: A Long Prison History

10 years ago, President Bush invaded Afghanistan and opened the Guantanamo Bay Prison. An estimated 800 men were rounded up and shipped to the Cuban enclave. Photos surfaced showing them in orange prison garb with their hands bound, legs shackled, and faces covered with masks. Many were captured based on nothing more than hearsay, often in response to bounties. Some were not involved in any war, but were linked to certain organizations. Most detainees had no history of any hostile act against the U.S.

President Obama pledged in 2008 to close Guantanamo, but the Congress blocked his efforts. He also said in 2009 the detainees would be tried in federal court, but now they appear to be going back to military tribunals. The issue of holding trials in the regular courts, or military tribunals, depends of the status of the prisoners.

The first issue was: are the prisoners civilians or combatants? Civilians are entitled to a trial in a typical criminal court, or an outright release, if there is no evidence against them. Combatants are people who carry arms. They are either lawful or unlawful. Lawful combatants, such as ordinary enemy troops, not accused of any war crimes, may not be put on trial, simply for serving as soldiers. They may be held for the duration of the conflict, but are entitled prisoner-of-war status. Prisoners may be tried in a military tribunal as unlawful combatants, only if they violated one of the Laws of War. If there is doubt as to their classification, they are protected by the Geneva Convention, until their status is determined by a competent judge.

President Bush initially found none of the prisoners were civilians, entitled to a release, or a trial in the regular court system (2002). He declared they were combatants, and more specifically, unlawful combatants, meaning he accused them of war crimes.

Bush issued an Executive Order (2001) ordering all prisoners to be tried by Military Commission, instead of military court-martial or civilian court. He gave the Commission exclusive jurisdiction. He repealed the ordinary rules of law, as he decreed: “It is not practicable to apply in military commissions…the principles of law, and the rules of evidence, generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the district courts.” He did not explain why he thought it was necessary to suspend the rights of the accused.

The Defense Dept. issued procedures for the military commissions (2002). The commissioners, prosecutors, and chief defense counsel would be picked by the Dept. Civilian defense lawyers would only be allowed if the Dept. pre-approved. Defense lawyers could be excluded from the hearings, if the Pentagon felt national security was at risk. Hearings were to be conducted in secret and closed to the media. Even the accused could be excluded from the room. He could see only that evidence the military allowed him to see. There would be no right to a speedy trial.  There would be no remedy or appeal: “in any court of the U.S., or any State thereof, or any court of a foreign nation, or any international tribunal.”

When the Pentagon filed their first charges (2004), prisoners filed Habeas Corpus petitions in the federal courts challenging Bush’s military system. In Hamdi v Rumsfeld (2004), Bush argued Hamdi was a combatant and could be held indefinitely, without charge. Hamdi said he was an innocent U.S. civilian, effectively serving a life sentence. The Supreme Court ruled the prisoner had a due process right to contest his status as a combatant.

Bush then created a Combatant Status Review Tribunals (2004) to determine if detainees were properly classified. Panels of military officers reviewed each case. They defined combatants as members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or other associated forces. After their reviews, they found some prisoners were not in fact combatants, but they continued to hold them anyway (2005).

Meanwhile, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act (2005), which attempted to override Hamdi, by denying Guantanamo prisoners Habeas Corpus petitions. That law was challenged in Hamdan v Rumsfeld (2006), along with Commission procedures, and the type of war crimes that could be prosecuted. The Supreme Court held Congress could not outlaw Habeas Corpus petitions. Procedurally, Hamdan did not want to be tried by Bush’s Commission. He instead wanted a trial in a military court-martial, where the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be applied. The Court agreed and ordered the use of courts-martial rules. As to the substantive charges, Hamdan was accused of conspiracy, but no specific act of wrongdoing. He argued conspiracy, by itself, is not a violation of the Laws of War. The Court agreed saying, the offense must violate the Laws of War, and conspiracy, in and of itself, does not appear in the Hague Conventions or the Geneva Conventions. They also said violations of the Laws of War happen during war, and cannot pre-date the conflict. The Court concluded none of the acts Hamden was alleged to have committed violated any of the Laws of War. After the Supreme Court ruling, a Republican-controlled Congress responded by passing the Military Commissions Act (2006), which again suspended Habeas Corpus, and resurrected Commission rules.

It’s time to be done with Guantanamo. Long ago, the Americans were right as they liberated Cuba and Guantanamo from Spain in the Spanish-American War (1898). The U.S. went wrong when they stayed in Cuba, until the Cubans agreed to lease Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. Navy. The U.S. has now had a lease on Guantanamo since 1903, and it’s time to vacate the premises. The U.S. needs to complete the remaining prisoner cases, close the base, bulldoze the buildings, and give Guantanamo back to Cuba.