Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Senate Gitmo Hearings

The Judiciary Committee in the Senate held important hearings today about the issue of Guantanamo Bay and the definition of legal rights for those detained there. The AP's Liz Sidoti has this write-up, and the International Herald Tribune also has a report. At the hearings, chairman Arlen Specter lamented the non-action of Congress on the issue of prisoner abuses, and ranking Democrat Pat Leahy called the prison "an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals, and remains a festering threat to our security." Pentagon officials defended the running of the detention facilities and the treatment of prisoners.

The Bush Administration departed from its usual "on-message" modus operandi today: the IHT report notes that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "confirmed that the fate of the center at the United States naval base in Cuba was under active study", while White House spokesman Scott McClellan is quoted in the AP report as saying "There are no plans, as we have said, for closing or shutting down Guantanamo Bay at this time."

While some of the rhetoric over Guantanamo Bay has been overblown, and I certainly think that the vast majority of detainees have been treated humanely and clearly some of those held and Gitmo are worthy of detention, Congress and the Administration ought to be able to develop a legal framework that will allow some kind of disposition to the cases of these detainees. I don't believe that perpetual detention without trial is a healthy practice for America to engage in. Guantanamo Bay has become a black eye to the American system of justice, and steps should be taken to remedy that bruise.


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