Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gitmo to close?

The most obvious thing to say is, it's about time -- though I guess it's not exactly a sure thing. Nonetheless, this story suggests that the administration is on the verge of a decision to close the detention center/prison/whatever at Guantanamo Bay, perhaps transferring the 380-odd prisoners to military prisons elsewhere, perhaps Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas.

In a way, there may not be much of a choice. This administration hasn't been much for paying attention to existing law, but the Supreme Court last year said the Gitmo situation was unacceptable. Last Fall Congress (when it was still in Republican hands) passed a military commissions bill to set up military commissions or tribunals to try the prisoners. But a couple of weeks ago military judges sitting on a commission -- presumably handpicked to be fairly compliant -- said it didn't have the authority to try the two low-level prisoners brought before it. (What happened to bringing charges against the "worst of the worst?")

It would hardly do to predict that this administration, so in love with the idea of untrammeled exeecutive power, was bowing to chacks and balances. But it might just not have any other options left.

One may hope. The idea of holding prisoners indefinitely without bringing charges -- denying that they are POWs (who could under international law be held until the end of the war) is simply repugnant to American traditions and any semblance of the rule of law.

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