"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


what w hath wrought

Wednesday night I went to a talk hosted by the Robert Strauss Center for International Security & Law here at UT. In additon to being a fun-filled evening of talking about what should be done with all the war on terror detainees at Guantanamo, it was also a taping for C-SPAN.

That's right. I went to a C-SPAN taping. Out-nerd that.

(And there was a Boy Scout troop in attendance. I'm not making that up. Poor kids were bored to tears.)

I enjoyed getting to hear from four very knowledgable experts on the topic at hand. The gist of the evening is that it's going to be an enormous nightmare for the Obama administration to figure out what to do with the people there. It's not as easy as just sending the innocents home and trying the serious terrorism suspects. Most of the innocents still being detained can't return home because they'll be tortured or killed. And some of the seriously bad guys there did things that are clearly harmful, but that weren't technically illegal in the fall of 2001, which complicates criminal prosecution considerably.

As moderator Bobby Chesney and the panelists pointed out, the Obama administration would very much like to have six months to look over the cases, but he predicted that they wouldn't get that long. Chesney was right. In fact, a judge ruled on Thursday that the hearings must continue. Starting in a week and a half.

The gist of the evening was that this is a big mess, it involves questions on the frontier of constitutional and international law, and most precedents are being made up as we go along. I have a feeling that the more we learn about what the Bush administration tried to hide from the public, the worse it's going to get. Oh, and odds are good that some of us are going to have Chinese Uyghur Muslim neighbors pretty soon.


Blogger Charlie Mac said...

Enormous nightmare.
Simple solution.
Keep Gitmo open.

Friday, January 30, 2009 5:24:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I don't know, Mac. All of the panelists, including the one who just left the Bush administration, strongly believed it needs to be closed. I'm not sure we understand here in the states how much Gitmo has damaged our reputation abroad. Only a clean break will help us to restore relations with our historic allies, whose help we really need to tackle some of these big problems (eg, Iran).

Saturday, January 31, 2009 10:49:00 AM

Blogger David McCullars said...

Mac, I recommend watching the Frontline episode that just aired. It talked about one of the Uyghur captives who is in exile in Albania (after spending six or seven years locked up in Gitmo even though everyone knew after a few months that he was not a terrorist). He will most likely never see his wife and children again. His story is simply heart-breaking.

We absolutely must, must, must close Gitmo. What we have done there is unconscionable. We've kept people that we know are innocent locked up in maximum security cells, in complete isolation for 22 hours a day with nothing but the voices in their heads to keep them company. After suicides became a problem, we took away their bedsheets. Somebody please explain to me how this could have ever happened in the land of the free.

Sunday, February 01, 2009 1:42:00 PM


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