The Corner

Ed Koch on Gitmo

One Democrat who is making sense:

The civilized world — friends, allies and adversaries in this war of civilizations being waged every day which may continue for decades — denounces our retention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.  The number currently detained there is approximately 500.  The U.S. military has released large numbers in the several years that the camp has been in existence and has stated that it will hold military trials for those still detained.  

Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides must be done with the detainees will be done, but the calls by many abroad and here at home to close the facility are ridiculous.  If the Bush administration were to oblige its detractors and close Guantanamo, wouldn’t those same detractors demand that every one of the enemy combatants held in the new prisons be freed?  

Is there any doubt that among those prisoners are many who, if freed, would re-dedicate themselves to killing us?  Many certainly view us as infidels who they are charged by their religion to kill.

Under the rules of war, enemy personnel captured by the U.S. may be detained until the hostilities end and a peace treaty is signed.  That policy applies to other nations as well.  In World War II, German prisoners were held ten years after the end of hostilities with the Soviet Union.  During the American Civil War, President Lincoln decided against an exchange of prisoners before the war ended, believing that the South, which had a smaller number of citizens able to bear arms, would benefit more than the North by prisoner exchanges.  

If Guantanamo were shut down, our government would have to find another location to detain enemy combatants.  The President and government officials state that these prisoners are treated humanely.  The prisoners say otherwise, but that, according to U.S. authorities, is part of their strategy to obtain release.  My advice to the President is to have a distinguished panel of Americans given full access to Guantanamo and its prisoners, and have them report to the American public on the conditions at the prison.

It is an impossible job to identify all the diehards from those who on release would lead a peaceful life.  It is not our obligation to do so.  When the war against international terrorism ends, only then are we required to free the Guantanamo enemy combatants.

Clifford D. MayClifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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