FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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A Social Crime and Failure” that “the natural impulse of the primitive man to strike back, to avenge a wrong, is out of date.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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
David Yearsley
Call Saul
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail