Last week, I criticized President Bush for equivocating on the Gitmo question. Rumsfeld tried to do damage control then. And Dick Cheney will be attempting to do so again on FNC’s Hannity and Colmes tonight. But it’s too late.
A Republican anti-Gitmo brigade has been born:
– Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) joined the Left’s Guantanamo Bay-bashers last week.
– So did Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).
– And check out this exchange between Brit Hume and GOP strategist Bill Kristol (video via the liberal blog Crooks and Liars) Kristol says: “I do think the President has laid the groundwork for closing down Guantanamo. I think he’ll do it in a few months.” Like Sens. Martinez and Hagel, Kristol is making the same “image” and “cost-benefit ratio” arguments for closing down Gitmo that Amnesty International and company have been pushing since the War on Terror began.
Hume counters: “It would be, in my judgement, a terrible mistake…if we start as a country going down the road of having to treat [the detainees] the way we would ordinary criminals or even prisoners of war, we’d have a big problem because they can’t properly dealt with that way.”
Watch the whole thing. Watch Kristol cite the unhappiness of “senior State Department officials” as compelling evidence in favor of shutting Gitmo down–and then watch Kristol pull the Left’s rhetorical trick of conflating Abu Ghraib with Gitmo. Kristol’s position is unclear to me. At one point, he argues that the detainees should be moved to U.S. bases. At another, he says they should be put in U.S. jails. Well, which is it? Does he mean civilian jails? If so, does he really side with the NY Times in advocating the same failed counterterrorism strategies that facilitated 9/11? If he means moving them to stateside bases, what’s the point? As the panel itself noted, the Supreme Court ruled that Gitmo is subject to U.S. jurisdiction–just like any base on American soil would be.
The new GOP anti-Gitmo squad’s position amounts to a cut-and-run strategy–panicking in the face of ill-informed, hysterical attacks from our military’s enemies at home and abroad. Even if, as Kristol claims, unnamed JAGs and senior NSC staffers and State Department officials have problems with how Gitmo has been run, there is no question from the mountains of documents the Pentagon has released to the ACLU and others that the military tracks and investigates alleged abuses, and has taken corrective action when they are warranted. I don’t know who Kristol’s anonymous sources are, but I’ll take Gen. Myers’ word over theirs sight unseen.
Related news development: High Court Rejects Enemy Combatant Appeal