A Glossy View of Guantanamo Bay

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's March 15 op-ed about the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay ["Don't Close It"] recycled all of the shibboleths about the "worst of the worst" that the Bush administration and its apologists have used to justify the prison's existence.

But when judges have looked at evidence, a very different picture has emerged. Of the 27 prisoners whose cases have been heard to date by the federal courts, only four have been found to be enemy combatants -- one of whom was found "guilty" of being a cook for the Taliban. The judges who ruled on these cases include Republican appointees who are among the most conservative jurists on the bench. Nonetheless, they considered facts, not fear-mongering. Mr. McConnell is probably pleased that most of these innocent men remain at Guantanamo, but the rest of us should be ashamed.

Guantanamo represents an abandonment of the rule of law on which this country was built. It is long past time to restore that fundamental principle. Closing the prison is an important step in that direction, but far more important is to give fair hearings to the prisoners who remain, release the ones who are innocent and deal with the rest just as our federal courts and prisons have long dealt successfully with convicted terrorists (both domestic and foreign) and other dangerous criminals.

DAVID J. CYNAMON

Washington

The writer is the attorney for the four Kuwaiti citizens imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's description of the detention facility at Guantanamo sounds lovely, with its references to prisoners riding stationary bicycles and borrowing from a "library" of books and DVDs. Add the "three meals a day," the freedom "to worship five times a day" and the "excellent" medical care, and it seems that Mr. McConnell cannot understand why these enemy combatants aren't grateful. Here's a guess: It's either the torture or the detention of these men without trial -- both issues completely glossed over by Mr. McConnell.

If these detainees are the "worst of the worst," the evidence of blood and terror should be ample to put them away in any prison for a long time. I hear Kentucky's Fort Knox is pretty secure. Senator?

GREGORY GERTNER

Bethesda


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