Photo provided by the AP / the Toronto Star by Michelle Shephard
A Republican-led Senate panel on February 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from our detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, That was a major roadblock in President Obama’s push to close Gitmo.
Now we are in June 2015, and face these two major developments relating to those remaining detainees there and closure of the facility – also, I might add, from a GOP-run Senate:
(1) Some in the Senate push to limit CIA torture techniques (June 13, 2015): Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has joined a bipartisan team pushing to limit “enhanced or brutal interrogation techniques” rightly labeled torture techniques, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and electric shock that the CIA can use on detainees. McCain along with and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate that would prohibit the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and allow the CIA to only use techniques listed in the Army Field Manual (FM), such as deception, the silent treatment, isolation (and I add: the many others proven effective minus any torture). The amendment would make permanent the executive order signed by President Obama back in 2009 that limited interrogation techniques to those found in the Army FM.
(2) Over White House objections, the Senate (June 18, 2015) passed a $612 billion defense policy bill that calls for (1) arming Ukraine forces against Russia, (2) prevents another round of base closures, and (3) makes it harder for President Obama to close the prison Gitmo for terror suspects still detained there, some 116 or so. The Senate vote was 71-25 that approved the bill, which Mr. Obama has threatened to veto, and yet must be reconciled with the House version passed earlier.
In addition to that, the White House opposes the provisions that would make it harder for Obama to transfer the remaining 116 detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so he can make good on his pledge to close the military prison. So, it stays open and there get no justice – which used to the American way … Imagine Americans still held in Hanoi – ouch.
Now, this latest on detainee release from The AP via Yahoo news in part: At least two Guantanamo Bay detainees are using President Obama's own words to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is over — and therefore they should be set free.
The court cases from detainees captured in Afghanistan ask federal judges to consider at what point a conflict is over and whether Obama, in a written statement last December, crossed that line by saying the American “combat mission in Afghanistan is ending.” The questions are important since the Supreme Court has said the government may hold prisoners captured during a war for only as long as the conflict in that country continues.
“The lawyers for the detainees are asking the right questions,” says Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at American University, “And what's really interesting is that the government can't quite seem to figure out its answer.”
The DOJ opposes the detainee challenges, arguing that “… the conflict in Afghanistan has clearly not concluded and the president didn't say that all fighting had ended.” (Or words to that affect).
Stay tuned – "... it aint’ over till it’s over" as Yogi Berra would say. Thanks for stopping by.