Obama Decides to Keep Grotesque Parody of Justice For Gitmo Detainees

When I visited Guantanamo Bay a few months ago, I caught what looked like the last act in the long, sordid miscarriage of justice President Bush called the military tribunal system.

There were so many outrageous problems with Bush's plan for trying suspected terrorists, it's hard to know where to start. 

The evidence, which is so mismanaged that whole case files have been lost in the Pentagon? The reams of testimony gained through torture, which no other court this side of Tehran would accept? The acrane rules that allow hearsay? The remote courtroom on the southern tip of Cuba, which keeps lawyers and clients from any kind of real interaction?

No matter. Apparently, it's good enough for Obama. The president, who called the system "an enormous failure" during his campaign, will announce later this week that he's restarting the military tribunals with a few tweaks.

It's a bad call. Worse than that, it's a bow to hysterical hometown politicians that have cried "Don't put these guys in our backyard!"

While I was in Guantanamo, Obama announced that he planned to close the infamous prison camp and put an indefinite halt to the tribunal process. Many thought they were done forever.

Several former Gitmo laywers I spoke with said that all the prisoners should either be sent back to their home countries or tried in U.S. criminal courts. After all, our federal courts have successfully convicted dozens of terrorists, including the first WTC bombers and one of the 9-11 plotters. The same could work for the guys in Gitmo, and America wouldn't lose worldwide standing for running a kangaroo court in Cuba.

You can't blame Obama alone for buckling on this one. Ever since he announced Gitmo's closure, every member of Congress has scrambled to make it clear that they want Guantanamo closed just so long as those pesky terrorists aren't sent to stay in the federal prison in their backyard.

One batshit Florida wingnut even proposed sending them all to tourist-trap Alcatraz so that Nancy Pelosi could have 'em. Congress even pulled $80 million booked for Gitmo's closure from Obama's most recent budget to make it clear that they wouldn't support sending the detainees to U.S. prisons.

Hopefully Congress is happy. They can crow to their constituents that those big bad terrorists won't be kept in their district's impentrable max-security prison where they'd never escape or have any interaction with anyone ever.

Intead, we can all enjoy a brand new miscarriage of justice down at Gitmo.  

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