Terrorist Hotbed

May 4, 2009

Terrorist Hotbed

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, May 01, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Politics: The Pentagon will have to build a facility for the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay if their current housing is closed. We know the perfect spot: a military prison in Cuba on a naval base called Gitmo.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday that he has asked for $50 million to build a prison in the U.S. that would house the enemy combatants who were sent to Guantanamo after being captured in the war on terror.

If the brig at Gitmo is closed, as many as 100 of the roughly 250 inmates there would be moved to the U.S. The rest could walk away because the evidence against them, while good enough to keep them incarcerated in a military prison as enemies of America, might be inadmissible in a criminal court on U.S. soil.

Who is going to want these 100 radicals, many of them linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban, in their backyard? And where will those who could no longer be detained end up? Back in the battlefield fighting U.S. troops?

For good reason, Gates said he “fully” expected “to have 535 pieces of legislation before this is over saying ‘Not in my district, not in my state.’ ” No one in this country is going to be comfortable with terrorists who want to kill Americans being housed down the road. No facility can possibly be isolated enough, not in the vast expanses of Alaska or Texas, in the remote swamps of Florida or in the sprawling deserts of Nevada.

The prison facility at Guantanamo, an ideal location for housing suspected terrorists, has become an open sore of controversy. The political left, seizing on the Bush administration’s insistence that the detainees didn’t have the protections spelled out in the Geneva Conventions because they belonged to no organized military, has characterized it as a torture chamber.

Along with the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Gitmo became a symbol of the Bush White House’s alleged hostility to human and constitutional rights and its depravity in general.

After years of demands that the Gitmo prison be closed, Barack Obama heeded them upon becoming president. On Jan. 22, the country’s new executive signed an order requiring the facility to be shut down within the year.

Problem solved? Not quite.

There’s that little matter of finding a place for men who live to kill and would be happy to get their hands on an American the same way a wolf would like to tear apart a chicken.

Closing the detainee camp at Gitmo will solve nothing. Whatever liberties that interrogators might have taken with the suspected terrorists at Guantanamo can be taken at a new facility.

Miserable conditions, if they indeed exist, can be transferred or created anew, as well. Different housing would merely salve the fevered minds who refuse to acknowledge the Islamist war on civilization.

And for what? A useless political victory for those who traffic in mindless symbolism over a man who hasn’t been in the White House even four months?

The debate over Gitmo has been marked by more hysteria than rational thought. Have any of its critics wondered why the Bush administration chose to send suspected terrorists there rather than to a federal prison within the 50 states? Could it have been for security reasons?

It’s reasonable to believe that the Bush White House simply thought it wise to keep the enemy combatants off U.S. soil and away from civilian Americans. It’s unreasonable to believe that they were put there just because the previous administration wanted them in a place where they could be tortured away from prying eyes.

The best place for the detainees at the Guantanamo base is right where they are. Why waste $50 million in taxpayers’ money for new construction costs, as well as the tens of millions that were already spent to build facilities that will be, in Gates’ word, mothballed? To gain nothing but hollow political points?

At Gitmo, the detainees are free to face Mecca when they pray. They have access to Islamic reading material and eat hot halal — approved by Islamic law — meals.

They are not in stocks, stretched out on the rack or systematically beaten. They are exactly where they should be. Pragmatism, not politics, is what should determine their location.

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