The Disturbing Op-Ed In Today’s New York Times

I was surprised this morning to open my copy of the Times and find an op-ed from Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel. He is a Yemeni citizen and prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. His story was told to his attorney through an Arabic translator. It is, to say the least, disturbing, but deserves to be read.

Do I know if what Moqbel is saying is true? I do not.

I do know our government uses Guantanamo Bay as a loophole to circumvent US law and constitutional protections.

After Bush political appointees at the US Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty captives to Guantanamo on January 11, 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on June 29, 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions – Wikipedia

Mr. Moqbel claims, “I’ve been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.”

Again, I don’t know if that specifically is true, but it matches many reports I’ve read over the years.

Where is habeas corpus? Where is the defendant’s right to be charged and tried? Isn’t habeas corpus fundamental to what this great nation stands for?

The Bush administration got us into this, but the Obama administration continues it. Neither gets a pass.

I don’t wish to see enemy combatants go free. At the same time I don’t want innocent men held just because we’ve screwed up–and screw up we have.

There are moments in our country’s history I am not proud of.

4 thoughts on “The Disturbing Op-Ed In Today’s New York Times”

  1. In fairness, the Obama administration attempted to close the Guantanamo facility and to move the trials of prisoners to U.S. courts. Congress voted to block their ability to do so.

  2. I think these decisions are best left for those deeply involved. Watching Zero dark thirty reconfirmed my feelings. It’s just not a normal situation.

    1. First, you are assuming these are ‘guilty’ parties at Guantanamo. Isn’t that for a court to decide? Isn’t that the foundation of our country?

      Unfortunately, what you said was my biggest fear after seeing that movie. Zero Dark Thirty is fiction and greatly diverges from what actually happened!

      Here is what Peter Bergen, who wrote the definitive book on the subject, “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad,” wrote earlier this year:

      The compelling story told in the film captures a lot that is true about the search for al Qaeda’s leader but also distorts the story in ways that could give its likely audience of millions of Americans the misleading picture that coercive interrogation techniques used by the CIA on al Qaeda detainees — such as waterboarding, physical abuse and sleep deprivation — were essential to finding bin Laden.

      This week, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee plans to vote on whether to approve the as-yet unreleased findings of a 6,000-page report about its three-year investigation into the secret CIA interrogation program that is depicted in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

      This report promises to be the definitive assessment of the intelligence value of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques. After the examination of millions of pages of evidence, the chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have publicly stated that coercive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding did not provide the information that led to bin Laden.

  3. No one should use a hollywood movie as basis for deducing the facts of anything. Movies are for entertainment and even when based of real events are distorted to play up the emotional and dramatic aspects to make a ‘better story’.
    Secondly yes Obama tried to close Gitmo and the republicans in congress blocked him at every turn. The people locked up there were captured ,and condemned without ever going to trial at all.
    yes Geoff a trial by jury is one of the foundations of our society and a fundamental right. But the Bush administration found ways around that and some people like it that way. I for one don’t. Give these men their day in a real court where they can havelawyers who can then cross examine the witnesses and evidence and find out exactly what is what. This would be taking the moral high road (showing that we treat even our worst enemies fairly.). This would win us respect around the world. Throwing people into a pit and silencing them for the rest of their lives without trial or recourse can be done by the crudest 3rd world despot. We tell the world we’re better than that and lecture those we think don’t measure up to our idea of human rights but we then in turn do the exact same things as they do? This country used to have better standards for itself.

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