Skip to comments.Congress Debates Rights of Gitmo Suspects
Posted on 06/15/2005 5:09:33 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - A senior Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), urged Congress on Wednesday to clarify prisoners' rights at Guantanamo Bay, decrying a "crazy quilt" of legal decisions about the military's handling of suspected terrorists.
Other Republicans on Specter's Judiciary Committee were divided over whether the Bush administration's practices were satisfactory. Military officers and Justice Department officials defended the treatment of suspects at the detention center on a U.S. Navy base in Cuba.
"We're holding them humanely," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Hemingway, a legal adviser to the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in Sheffield, England for a meeting of G8 interior ministers, said Wednesday the Bush administration has discussed whether it should stop holding suspected terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
"That's a question that is evaluated, I would say, quite often," Gonzales told reporters.
Critics mostly mostly human-rights groups and Democrats have long accused the administration of unjustly detaining suspects at Guantanamo. Amnesty International recently compared it to Soviet-era gulags and some Republicans have questioned whether it should remain open.
The Senate panel convened to wade into the complicated system in place to detain, interrogate and, if warranted, prosecute foreigners suspected of having links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al-Qaida terror network.
The administration calls the Guantanamo prisoners "enemy combatants" who are entitled to fewer legal protections that those afforded to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Some detainees have been held for three years without charges brought against them.
The Supreme Court and lower federal courts have weighed in on detainees' rights, but they have issued conflicting opinions.
"It's a genuine crazy quilt to try to figure out where the due process rights lie," said Specter, R-Pa.
Military and Justice Department witnesses testified that extraordinary steps are being taken to protect prisoners' rights and process their cases. To ensure they weren't mistakenly classified as enemy combatants, each case goes through a rigorous process in which all evidence is looked at and detainees get a formal hearing before a review panel, the officials said.
Of the 558 given hearings at Guantanamo, 520 were declared "properly classified" as enemy combatants. And 23 of the remaining 38 have been released, Justice Department officials said.
"Because of the highly unusual nature of the global war on terror, and because we do not want to detain any person longer than as necessary, we've taken this unprecedented and historic action to establish this process to permit enemy combatants to be heard while conflict is ongoing," said Navy Rear Adm. James M. McGarrah. He oversees the reviews of prisoners and whether they should remain at Guantanamo.
Detaining terrorism suspects "serves the vital military objectives of preventing captured combatants from rejoining the conflict, and gathering intelligence to further the overall war effort, and to prevent additional attacks against our country," said Michael Wiggins, a deputy associate attorney general.
Still, he acknowledged, "Such detention is not for criminal justice purposes and is not part of our nation's criminal justice system."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, called the detention center "an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals and it remains a festering threat to our security." He added: "This policy on detainees is clearly not working."
Both Republicans and Democrats pressed witnesses on the pace of prosecutions.
"This seems to be a horribly slow process," said Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio.
Said Leahy: "We haven't seen any justice."
Hemingway responded: "We've moved with considerable dispatch. A lot of people think that all we did was dust off World War II procedures," but in fact, he said, "We have built a whole judicial system to try these cases."
"Congress has its work cut out for it" as it studies the system that lies outside the scope of the U.S. judicial branch, Specter said. He expressed frustration that the House and Senate have failed to act on several bills, including his own, to more clearly define rights and procedures for enemy-combatant detainees.
"It may be that it's too hot to handle for Congress, may be that it's too complex to handle for Congress, or it may be that Congress wants to sit back as we customarily do," he said. "But at any rate, Congress hasn't acted."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), R-S.C., urged lawmakers to get busy. "There is not enough buy-in by the Congress to what's going on at Gitmo," he said, using the prison's nickname.
McGarrah acknowledged, "Anything that can be done to help clarify this would help."
Several Republicans, Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, defended the current system, saying U.S. officials have extracted critical intelligence from detainees.
"They are provided more due process than required," Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala., said as he angrily defended the prison and took issue with what he called the hearing's negative tone.
The administration contends the prison is an essential part of the U.S.-led war on terror.
President Bush last week appeared to leave open the possibility that the prison would be closed, but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he thought it would be needed for years. And White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday: "There are no plans, as we have said, for closing or shutting down Guantanamo Bay at this time."
Pressed by Democrats on how long detainees could be held, Hemingway said, "I think we can hold them as long as the conflict endures."
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., later asked for a timetable. "If there is no definition as to when the conflict ends, that means forever, forever, forever these folks get held at Guantanamo Bay," he said.
Wiggins responded: "It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity."
On the Net:
Defense Department: http://www.defense.gov
human-rights groups and Democrats communists and socialist DemocRats have long accused the administration of unjustly detaining suspects at Guantanamo. Amnesty International recently compared it to Soviet-era gulags and some Republicans have questioned whether it should remain open.
So renounce your citizenship and move to slobovia , Senator. You can fight along side the suspects for their freedom.
I am at a complete loss for words.
Do the Dems forget that Al Quedfa declared War on the US? Hold them until Al Queda surrenders or ceases to exist.
Do the Dems forget that Al Queda declared War on the US? Hold them until Al Queda surrenders or ceases to exist.
Personally I have trouble calling them human.
*****Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., later asked for a timetable. "If there is no definition as to when the conflict ends, that means forever, forever, forever these folks get held at Guantanamo Bay," he said.******
And those 3000 American's killed on 9/11 are also dead forever,forever,forever.
"propaganda gift to America's enemies" ....to quote a NYT editorial
To the critics who are appalled that we made Al Queda terrorists,
( including Osama's body guard and the 20th hijacker) spend the night in non air conditioned rooms,
I have one question-
" How hot was it at the WTC before it collapsed ? "
Maybe Joe Biden and Dick Durbin can answer that one.
Ive been listening to Hugh Hewitt tonight. He has a liberal on the phone saying that the people who jummped from the WTC had a better option than the poor terrorists who are forced to pee on themselves at gitmo.
Email received this AM
Under Islamic law, non-Muslims are deemed unfit to touch the Quran. That much is generally known. What is not usually considered is the reason: According to the Islamic law, we are unclean.
The term is "najis." On the multilingual Web site of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the leading Iraqi Shi'ite cleric, there is a catalogue of Islamic laws. This includes a list of "najis things." There are 10, beginning with an assortment of excretions and body fluids--obvious stuff that really shouldn't need special mention. On the "najis" list with urine, feces, etc., are the pig, the dog and the "kafir." That means the Christian, the Jew, the unbeliever in Islam--and, chances are, the Gitmo guard.
In effect, then, with its official policy of clean gloves and detainee towels, the United States military is promoting, enabling and accepting the Islamic concept of najis--the unclean infidel--a barbarous notion that has helped fuel the bloodlust of jihad and the non-Muslim subjugation of dhimmitude. Our soldiers are many things: self-sacrificing, bold, loyal and true. They are not unclean.
Is this political correctness run amok? Not exactly. It's something else again, a new threat from within that needs vigilant redress. P.C. is about victimology, the elevation of perceived victim groups to the canonical pantheon. The Gitmo rules are more blatantly about surrender, a voluntary self-extinguishment, a spreading condition of denial of what is right and worth standing for. Not what you expect from the United States Southern Command.
Liberals make me sick to my stomach, but worse than the liberals and their hatred for America are the weakling Republican senators that sit idly by and let Leahy browbeat a U.S. military officer, as he did today, and allow Durbin a free pass for outright sedition.
Someone in the gutless, nutless GOP has to draw the line, and soon. We cannot allow these prima donna traitors to get by with debilitating the morale of our troops, and aiding and abetting our enemies in the name of comity in the senate country club.
Comparing our military to Nazis, and worse, is tantamount to treason, and it has to be stopped with extreme measures. Haul the bastard, Durbin, from the senate chamber in cuffs, if necessary, but get the message out, once and for all that behavior such as his will no longer be countenanced.
These idiots have allowed their hatred for George W. Bush to drive them insane, but Frist and Co. are not much better if they sit by and fail to drum Durbin and his ilk out of the senate.
I agree 100% it's disgusting all around.
NO it's not. They have no due process, they are the equivalent to spies and mercenaries in WWII, combatants without a country. They should be without a Koran, in a 4 x 6 open barbed wire enclosed fence with the same thing that our soldiers eat. If they starve, they starve. If they won't drink, they die. I don't care.
We are in a war for crying out loud.
Is there that much distrust and hatred for what we are doing?
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