Saudi national Abdelhadi Faraj is on a hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay, having been in the custody of the United States federal government since 2002. In just one more compounding evidentiary fact of tragedy in the cavalcade of horrors that are Faraj’s life events of the last eleven years, he was actually cleared to be released in 2010. I can’t tell you why he hasn’t been released yet, but the facts of the matter are that Faraj is not alone in that regard; many of the prisoners at Gitmo have been cleared to be returned.
Abdelhadi’s lawyer translated a letter that his client wrote from within his cell and The Huffington Post ran it. If you have a few minutes and a strong constitution, go read it HERE. I don’t very often so nakedly point to the source of a piece, but in this case, it’s so very warranted. When historians look back on the post-9/11 era of American history, Guantanamo Bay’s use as a pseudo-judiciary holding pen for suspected terrorists, many of which have been cleared enough by our own government to be sent home, will be judged especially harshly. Many mistakes perhaps will be forgiven in the rear view mirror, but the Iraq War and Gitmo will sure as hell not be among those transgressions wiped clean.
“During the Bush years, solutions seemed possible. Under Obama, it seems like there is no will to solve the problem.”
The uncomfortable truth for some might come in having to reconcile the fact that President Obama shares the blame for Guantanamo. No, not for its creation, that will always be Dick Cheney and his Vice-President George W. Bush’s cross to bear. When it comes to keeping it open — even over the loudest shouts of support for Obama — he deserves a healthy portion of the blame. I understand completely that he’s on more than one occasion told our gang of jackasses known as Congressional representatives to close Gitmo, and I know he’s been rebuffed every time.
It’s time for the goddamned buck to stop.
I don’t want to live in imperial state. I don’t want to live under dictatorial decree. As much as I want an assault weapons ban, an end to the drug war, and gay marriage I am willing to go through the proper Constitutional channels of voter-backed referendum or normal parliamentary order in our Legislative branch. I’m a big fan of the process we use to enact laws in our country. All that being said, the previous four administrations all worked to increase the power and scope of the Executive and now it’s time for Obama to wield that power…as he dismantles it.
I’m not saying that I could forgive the NSA stuff, but I am saying that it’s so un-surprising that I find myself not dispassionate, but not frothing at the mouth to hold Obama’s feet to the fire over it. Not yet anyway. But when you compound his refusal to tear down that remnant of the Bush II reign with the nightmare at Guantanamo, you see a picture that many of the president’s supporters may not like. I’m not saying that his inaction on Gitmo is grounds for impeachment, nor am I saying that it speaks to some depraved indifference for human life. That’s what drone strikes do. Kidding. Sort of.
What I am suggesting is that we have reached a point where politics have trampled American Values. The only goddamned reason that hell hole is still in operation is politics. Shitty goddamned politics is keeping a shitty goddamned wound open and festering. So as much as I’m a fan of not living under a dictator, what good is an Executive Order if you can’t use it to reignite the flame of true freedom in this country? That’s my point, really, just that we’re better than this. We’re better than Guantanamo.
Maybe Faraj deserved to be brought into custody eleven years ago. I noted, and many commenting on the HuffPo posting did as well, that he didn’t proclaim innocence. What he and his fellow hunger strikers are doing is begging for due process. The same thing that Edward Snowden leaked the NSA story to ostensibly “protect.” Where has our integrity gone, America? Maybe Faraj is guilty as hell of being a terrorist who conspired to murder Americans in a 9/11-style fashion. If that’s true, then why are we not prosecuting him? Why are we not prosecuting any of the prisoners who are still there after over a decade?
Habeas corpus right now is like, “Whoa, where the fuck am I, Barack?”
When he took his oath of office, both times President Obama swore to uphold the Constitution of this country. That document has very, very clear directives on how prisoners and suspected criminals are to be treated. In my opinion, our justice system’s most enlightened and truly progressive element has always been its steadfast commitment to erring on the side mistaken exoneration instead of mistaken conviction. If we trust our system of governance and the judicial system it relies upon to keep it running fairly, then we have to treat the men trapped in Guantanamo as we would any other criminal. They deserve trials, and if we do not have enough evidence to convict they deserve to be sent home.
Maybe the Obama administration’s intentions are completely altruistic and benign. I have my personal theory that involves them understanding that any of these detainees that they send back to their home countries will be instantly propagandized and pointed to as an example for recruiting more young men to radicalize. The problem is that we’re doing the same fucking thing by letting them all languish, aren’t we? So wouldn’t it be better to send them home, admit our mistakes, and hope for a slate that if not clean…is at least a little less strewn with the blood of radicals and innocents?
I’m fairly certain I can predict how the comments on this one will work out. There will be acknowledgment all around that Guantanamo is a bad, bad deal. Then after that most people will make excuses for the president. I’ve been there. I still hold him in joint accountability with the bonobos on the Hill. It’s just that I can’t help but feel the man in the Oval Office’s piece of blame cake (I personally like red velvet blame cake) should be the biggest. Because he’s the fucking president, right?
Obviously the best way for this all to be resolved is for Congressional Republicans to stop putting their party in front of the country and let President Obama score a “win” by closing that infernal place down for good. That’s not going to happen as long as the president is black and a Democrat. So it’s time for Barack to put his big boy pants on, take a deep breath, and step out over the edge into truly gutsy leadership territory. Not a lot of presidents are given the kind of opportunity like this one, to show such enormous courage of morality and ethical conviction. I have no idea if he’s up the challenge or not, but I certainly hope he is, for the good of our relationships with the Muslim world in the future. They’ll never recover as long as Guantanamo is open.
I don’t know what would happen if Obama issued an executive order to the Joints Chiefs of Staff to take any all measures necessary to move the prisoners of Gitmo to other maximum security prisons and to process for immediate release any prisoners who have been cleared to do so by intra-agency review. I can’t say I really care. It’s hard to imagine the House Republicans not impeaching him for it. I bet some dip shit red state Dems might even tag along for the ride, but the American people will not tolerate a sitting president being thrown out office for doing the right thing. We might have to have a whole of people treated with smelling salts after they faint from surprise though.
Today we celebrate our independence and the freedoms it gives us all. Those freedoms are built on a solid foundation of presumed innocence and the rule of law. Evidence and facts, not rhetoric and fear, are supposed to guide our actions. I think it’s time that we reminded our president of his duty to defend those values.
Do the right thing, Mr. President.