I’m going to go back at this. I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that [Guantanamo] is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.President Obama • Restating, over four years after his initial promise as President, that he wants to close America’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This is an issue which Obama gave a push early in his first term, but the effort fell apart in light of a politically reluctant congress, after which the question of how to deal with the now 166 detainees still housed at Guantanamo largely passed by the wayside. But now, Guantanamo detainees have taken matters into their own hands, with a majority of those 166 embarking on a grueling hunger strike, emaciating themselves to the extent that some have been force fed with tubes to keep them alive. Of all the possible outcomes at Guantanamo, a big chunk of those still there starving themselves to death is a macabre endgame that nobody wants to see. And as that risk has increased, so too has media attention to the situation. source
We are disturbed by the Administration’s decision to bring Sulaiman Abu Ghaith—a foreign member of al Qaeda charged with conspiring to kill Americans – to New York for trial in federal court. The Obama Administration’s lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe.A statement from Sens. McCain, Graham and Ayotte • Denouncing the Obama administration’s decision to try Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a former spokesperson for al Qaeda, and son-in-law of the deceased Osama bin Laden, in a New York civilian court. The trio of Senators (who seem to be something of a clique since Ayotte’s election in 2010 — all three also teamed to oppose Susan Rice’s possible Secretary of State nomination) urge instead stashing him in Guantanamo, where the customary rules and rights of trial would not apply. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said much the same: “At Guantanamo, he could be held as a detainee and fulsomely and continuously interrogated without having to overcome the objections of his civilian lawyers.” Which obviously sounds like a sweet deal, if you’re into that sort of thing. It will be interesting to see if the administration stands resolute on this issue — they once promised a New York City civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but were stymied by restrictions on transferring detainees out of Guantanamo, engineered by the congressional GOP and codified by the President’s signing of the 2011 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). source
» Resisting the process: For the first time in nearly three years, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-defendants appeared before a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, facing 2,976 counts of murder for the 9/11 attacks. The proceedings have not gone smoothly, as the defendants removed their headphones, which provide Arabic translations, refusing to listen to questioning much less answer. Two of the defendants left their seats to pray, as well – Mohammed’s civilian lawyer, David Nevin, said his client was refusing to cooperate because he deemed the process unfair. Military tribunals have been a hot-button issue in the past – President Obama initially wanted a civilian trial for Mohammed in New York City, but reversed due to political and logistical issues.
Frankly, the prospects for closing Guantanamo, the best I can tell, are very, very low.Secretary of Defense Robert Gates • At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The problem, Gates says, is that just about nobody in Congress actually wants to close the controversial detainment facility, and Congressional approval would be required to shut it down. source (via • follow)
» Why this trial is a big deal: Ghailani was the first suspect who served time in Guantanamo to face trial in a civilian, rather than a military, court. The suspect once faced much harsher charges that could’ve led to the death penalty, but instead will receive a much lighter sentence. For its part, the Justice Department is OK with that: ”We respect the jury’s verdict and are pleased that Ahmed Ghailani now faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a potential life sentence for his role in the embassy bombings,” they wrote.