Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bush "wants" to close Gitmo!!

How can you know that a sea-change is afoot in this country when Republicans start saying that they all of a sudden want to do things that we've been campaigning for for years. E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post wrote recently about the Republican attempts to re-brand themselves and give themselves an image that fits more closely with Democratic concepts than Republican ones.

Little did I know or expect that one of the political reeds that would be blown by this wind would be our own fearless leader.
Bush said very recently that he would like to close our prison at Guantanamo Bay--and all he is waiting for to be able to do so is a Supreme Court ruling on whether the detainees there will be brought before a military tribunal or a civilian jury:

"Of course Guantanamo is a delicate issue for people. I would like to close the camp and put the prisoners on trial," Bush said in comments to be broadcast on Sunday night.

"Our top court must still rule on whether they should go before a civil or military court. They will get their day in court. One can't say that of the people that they killed. They didn't give these people the opportunity for a fair trial."

The quotes were translated by Reuters from a German transcript.

It would, of course, be fundamentally un-American™ to speculate that Bush's announcement was politically motivated, because our President acts straight from the gut when it comes to determining right and wrong. But it wasn't more than four months ago that Bush believed the 180-degree opposite about Gitmo:

The camp on the U.S. Navy base there is "a necessary part of protecting the American people," Bush said after meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.

The only thing that could possibly make this dramatic a difference is if we've already won the war on terror!

Okay, but all snark aside, I'd like to bring some other things to your attention concerning Bush's (translated remarks about wanting to close Guantanamo.

First, he says that he would "like" to close Guantanamo. Oh really, Mr. Bush? You'd "like to"? So you want to, but something prevents you? I thought you were the decider, Mr. President. I thought you were the unitary executive, with exclusive authority to do what it takes to protect the American people. You didn't need Supreme Court approval to engage in extrajudicial warrantless wiretaps to protect the American people. So why do you need the Supreme Court to decide on how to try the prisoners there before you close the camp?

You also say, Mr. President, that "they will get their day in court." I'd like to ask you something, Mr. President: why do you care so much now about whether they get their day in court? It wasn't very long ago, that federal prosecutors argued relentlessly on your behalf that you had the ability to detain even American citizens indefinitely without trial or arraignment on charges, and that that ability was also integral to the security of the American people and the successful prosecution of the war on terror.

Lastly, Mr. President, I'd like to ask you about something else that you said. You said that "the people they killed didn't get an opportunity for a fair trial." I have a couple of questions on that, Mr. President. First of all, concerning the people "they killed": what would they have been tried for? Weren't they innocent people? People who are murdered wouldn't have needed a fair trial in the first place.

But more importantly: you already said "the people they killed." I thought that the point of a fair trial, Mr. President, was the presumption of innoncence until guilt is proved. That's what a fair trial is all about. Aren't you preventing the conclusion of a fair trial by already declaring, in your omnipotent power as a unitary executive, that they are guilty of murder?

And furthermore, I wanted to ask you, Mr. President, if your conclusion about these people--all of whom are killers by your own declaration--applies equally as well to those who are still detained whom the Pentagon has declared are innocent. Will these killers get a fair day in court as well, Mr. President? Or will they need to be brought before a second military tribunal to declare their already proven innocence yet again?

Answer me these questions, Mr. President. Because the American people deserve to know.

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos]

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