President Barack Obama, only days after terror attacks by Islamists in Paris claimed at least 130 lives, said he still plans to close Guantanamo Bay before his term ends.
In 2013 he declared the War on Terror over. In 2011 he withdrew all U.S. military assets from Iraq. In 2009 he made an apology tour through the Middle East. And now he behaves as though all Gitmo detainees are victims and therefore deserve their freedom.
His obstinate urgency with regard to releasing some of the worst of the worst unlawful combatants in the Global War on Terror, including five detainees released last week continues to put citizens of the world at risk.
Released Gitmo detainees have been caught and killed returning to the jihad against the West. The office of National Security releases a report on the recidivism of released detainees twice per year. The latest report claims at least 30 percent of released detainees are suspected or confirmed to have returned to battle. That’s bad enough, but what about the other 70 percent we don’t know about?
The president reiterated his belief that Gitmo poses a “recruiting tool” for the Islamic State. That is complete fantasy. Obama has made Gitmo nothing more than a rest and recreation center for Islamists. A total of 664 detainees have been released.
International Committee of the Red Cross physicians I worked with there and in Iraq have told me, “no one does [detention operations] better than the United States.” Gitmo is the finest military detention facility on earth. It is safe, secure, and should be used to hold and question current unlawful combatant Islamists who may be captured, as well as retain those deemed too dangerous to release.
Our enemies don’t have any greater recruiting tools than the attacks on 9/11 and the Crusades. Those are the events used to recruit and motivate new members, not Gitmo. Gitmo is a joke to 99 percent of them. They know now that it is simply a weigh station and time out from battle. There are over 600 released detainees to tell the stories of first class treatment and more food than they have ever seen, and world class medical care.
In fact the only institutionalized abuse at Gitmo is perpetrated by the detainees perpetrate on the military police guards. “Gitmo cocktails” made from detainee’s urine, feces and other bodily fluids are splashed on the guards. Guards have been sucker punched, kicked, bitten, verbally abused and threatened by detainees from the first days of the operation back in January 2002.
The Obama administration has once again delayed their promised Gitmo closure plan, which is said to include the transfer of many detainees to federal or other prisons in the United States, including Kansas and South Carolina, despite a statement made by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who said the “the law does not allow” Gitmo detainees to be brought to the U.S.
The governors of target states for placement of detainees have said they would fight such an action, legally if need be, in order to protect their populations, especially around the prisons, from becoming targets of terror.
Also, if you bring unlawful combatant Islamists to the United states, what’s to stop their friends, family and our foes from attempting to immigrate, migrate, claim refugee status, seek student, work and visitation visas to come here and then be near their incarcerated brothers? Certainly not the Obama administration or liberal followers of the party line on immigration. Such an action might create the next American Islamist Mecca.
In the end, until all Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must defend ourselves. Gitmo is a reasonable cost of doing business in the Global War on Terror in that effort.
During WWII we held over 400,000 lawful combatant POW’s in the United States, without charge or trial or even one call for extra-legal privileges for them. What’s different now that we would allow the release of sworn enemies who want to kill us?
The Geneva Conventions and Law of Land Warfare and our own Authorization for the Use of Military Force, relevant to the War on Terror all say we may hold even lawful combatant POW’s “until the end of hostilities.”
No reasonable person can claim today that the Global War on Terror is not alive and well, and now living in Paris.
Montgomery Granger is a three-times mobilized U.S. Army major (Ret.) and author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior." Amazon, Blog, Facebook, Twitter: @mjgranger1
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