FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Last Saturday, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp released four of its 136 uncharged detainees from custody. Six years late, Barack Obama is inching closer towards keeping his promise: “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that.”  But as for the pledge to restore habeas corpus that accompanied his making an anti-Guantanamo stance central on the campaign trail, he’s not so inclined to “follow through on that.”

Obama told CNN that “there’s gonna be a certain irreducible number that are gonna be really hard cases, because we know they’ve done something wrong and they are still dangerous, but it’s difficult to mount the evidence in a traditional Article III court, so we’re gonna have to wrestle with that.”  And yes, this is the same Obama who issued an executive order two days after becoming president aimed “promptly to close detention facilities at Guantanamo” stating clearly that “the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

This is what democracy looks like.

It has taken the president until the lame-duck section of his second term to take such a baby step towards closing a facility which, even in purely realpolitik terms, is a liability on par with the Bastille of pre-revolutionary France (whose Ancien Regime could likely have hung on longer by making a show of releasing a couple of inmates now and then).  Not that its cost making regular US prisons look like models of fiscal restraint gives pause to its unblinking defense by Nile Gardiner, the Heritage Foundation’s director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

Meanwhile, Voice of America shifts the blame to “obstacles imposed by the U.S. Congress,” a move reminiscent of bygone calls to “let Reagan be Reagan” and implement the laissez-faire he really wanted to all along.

Emma Goldman wrote in “Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure” that “the natural impulse of the primitive man to strike back, to avenge a wrong, is out of date. Instead, the civilized man, stripped of courage and daring, has delegated to an organized machinery the duty of avenging his wrongs, in the foolish belief that the State is justified in doing what he no longer has the manhood or consistency to do. The majesty-of-the-law is a reasoning thing; it would not stoop to primitive instincts. Its mission is of a ‘higher’ nature.”

A century later, the hypertrophied growth of the prison bureaucracy bears this out, as well as her insistence that “The hope of liberty and of opportunity is the only incentive to life, especially the prisoner’s life. Society has sinned so long against him—it ought at least to leave him that. I am not very sanguine that it will, or that any real change in that direction can take place until the conditions that breed both the prisoner and the jailer will be forever abolished.”

Joel Schlosberg is a contributor to the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org). He lives in New York.

More articles by:

Joel Schlosberg is a contributor to the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org). He lives in New York.

January 23, 2019
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail