Honestly, if we closed Gitmo, what would be the point? They’re not going to receive trials equivalent to non combatant civilians. They’d be placed into another military prison, facing military tribunals. Anyways, thought this article was worth sharing. I put some interesting points (to me at least) in bold.
The Guantánamo I Know
By MORRIS D. DAVIS
Published: June 26, 2007
"LINDSEY GRAHAM, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is right: ?The image of Guantánamo Bay and the reality of Guantánamo Bay are completely different.? It is disappointing that so many embrace a contrived image. Reality for Guantánamo Bay is the daily professionalism of its staff, the humanity of its detention centers and the fair and transparent nature of the military commissions charged with trying war criminals. It is a reality that has been all but ignored or forgotten.
The makeshift detention center known as Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 after just four months of use. Now it is overgrown with weeds and serves as home to iguanas. Yet last week ABC News published a photo online of Camp X-Ray as if it were in use, five years after its closing.
Today, most of the detainees are housed in new buildings modeled after civilian prisons in Indiana and Michigan. Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day. Each has a copy of the Koran. Guards maintain respectful silence during Islam?s five daily prayer periods, and medical care is provided by the same practitioners who treat American service members. Detainees are offered at least two hours of outdoor recreation each day, double that allowed inmates, including convicted terrorists, at the ?supermax? federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.
Standards at Guantánamo rival or exceed those at similar institutions in the United States and abroad. After an inspection by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in March 2006, a Belgian police official said, ?At the level of detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons.?
Critics liken Guantánamo Bay to Soviet gulags, but reality does not match their hyperbole. The supporters of David Hicks, the detainee popularly known as the ?Australian Taliban,? asserted that Mr. Hicks was mistreated and wasting away. But at his March trial, where he pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization, he and his defense team stipulated he was treated properly. Mr. Hicks even thanked service members, and as one Australian newspaper columnist noted, he appeared in court ?looking fat, healthy and tanned, and cracking jokes.?
Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart?s and ends like O. J. Simpson?s, then military commissions are flawed. They are mistaken. The Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants. They are entitled to protections under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which ensures they are afforded ?all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.?
Justice John Paul Stevens, in the Hamdan decision that rejected an earlier plan for military commissions, observed that Article 75 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable. A comparison of Article 75 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 shows military commissions provide the fundamental guarantees.
Each accused receives a copy of the charges in his native language; outside influence on witnesses and trial participants is prohibited; the accused may challenge members of the commission; an accused may represent himself or have assistance of counsel; he is presumed innocent until guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt; he is entitled to assistance to secure evidence on his behalf; he is not required to incriminate himself at trial and his silence is not held against him; he may not be tried a second time for the same offense; and he is entitled to the assistance of counsel through four stages of post-trial appellate review ending at the United States Supreme Court.
One myth is that the accused can be excluded from his trial and convicted on secret evidence. The administrative boards that determine if a detainee is an enemy combatant and whether he is a continuing threat may consider classified information in closed hearings outside the presence of the detainee. But military commissions may not. The act states, ?The accused shall be permitted … to examine and respond to evidence admitted against him on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.? Unless the accused chooses to skip his trial or is removed for disruptive behavior, he has the right to be present and to confront all of the evidence.
Many critics disapprove of the potential admissibility of evidence obtained by coercion and hearsay. Any statement by a person whose freedom is restrained by someone in a position of authority can be viewed as the product of some degree of coercion. Deciding how far is too far is the challenge. I make the final decision on the evidence the prosecution will introduce. The defense may challenge this evidence and the military judge decides whether it is admitted. If it is admitted, both sides can argue how much weight, if any, the evidence deserves. If a conviction results, the accused has the assistance of counsel in four stages of post-trial appellate review. These are clearly robust safeguards.
The Military Commissions Act says hearsay is admissible unless it is challenged. The party raising the challenge must persuade the military judge that the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the commission, among other reasons. While this standard permits admission of some evidence that would not be admissible in federal courts, the rights afforded Americans are not the benchmark for assessing rights afforded enemy combatants in military tribunals.
There is no ban on hearsay among the indispensable rights listed in the Geneva Conventions. Nor is there a ban on hearsay for the United Nations-sanctioned war crimes tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Nuremberg trials also did not limit hearsay evidence. Simply stated, a ban on hearsay is not an internationally recognized judicial guarantee.
Guantánamo Bay is a clean, safe and humane place for enemy combatants, and the Military Commissions Act provides a fair process to adjudicate the guilt or innocence of those alleged to have committed crimes. Even the most vocal critics say they do not want to set terrorists free, but they scorn Guantánamo Bay and military commissions and demand alternatives. The facts show the current alternative is worth keeping."