by Jill McLaughlin
Note: The following is a copy of a response from a World Can’t Wait supporter after we sent out a statement saying that people of conscience should oppose and resist the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Facility in Thomson, Illinois. The response illustrates the questions people will ask those who oppose such a move by our government. I have put her response is in bold Italics and have put my answer to her questions in bold below her response.
There are SO MANY problems today that it seems impossible to undertake to learn about them all. I support much of what "The World Can’t Wait" says and does. And I must confess I have no real knowledge of this situation regarding Thompson, ILL. However, what I have read and tried to analyze objectively this does not seem to be a wrong move. Will it not start the closing of Guantanamo? Will these prisoners be well guarded and unlikely to be released or escape? The people in Illinois and the governor it seems are for it, in that the situation will provide jobs for many of the out of work people and a protected environment for the prisoners while they are on trial. What am I missing or misunderstanding? – Pat
Jill here from World Can’t Wait. As promised I’m writing to answer the questions you posed about moving the detainees from Guantanamo detention center to the Thomson Correctional Facility in Thomson, IL . First the questions asked highlight the fact that right now there are only two arguments to the debate around the Thomson Correctional Facility. On the one side you have the right-wing conservatives arguing that having detainees moved here will make Americans less safe and open to terrorist attacks. This is patently false. On the other side you have Democrats and some liberals and progressives saying that Guantanamo must be closed in order to restore America ‘s reputation around the world and at that at the same time by moving the detainees that remain at Guantanamo here to Thomson shows that they can address national security issues. They also point to the economic boon this will be.
But no one is talking about the moral reality here which is that many of these men were not captured on the battlefield. In fact many were turned in by warlords and tribesmen to the U.S. after the U.S. dropped thousands of leaflets in Afghanistan promising a thousand dollars for information on alleged terrorists. Others were kidnapped in their home countries-no where near Afghanistan or Iraq . Many of the men at Guantanamo have been released after years of detention because there was no evidence to hold them and/or the evidence the U.S. obtained was coerced through torture and laughable-it would have been too embarrassing to proceed with a tribunal. What does it indicate when one is held for years without charge? It indicates that there is no evidence of wrong doing or that the evidence is tainted and insufficient to hold someone or try someone on. It is immoral that these men were kidnapped and renditioned to begin with but that immorality multiplies when the U.S. continues to detain them because they don’t want the embarrassment of a trial or out of imperial necessity to show the world that they’re tough on terror.
While it is true that Obama amended the military commissions act of 2006 in October which did not allow for detainees speak to the charges or evidence in the military commissions or tribunals it is still in keeping with much of the 2006 MCA. Read Ken Theisen’s article. In the 2006 MCA it states evidence that was coerced could as well as here say evidence could be used where as proponents of Obama’s MCA say that evidence obtained through torture cannot be used. However, as an article in the Washington Independent points out that under Bush it was argued by his lawyers such as John Yoo that harsh interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation, stress positions, and long periods of standing etc. are not torture while many believe that these are torture Read Here.
Then there is the instance where this past May Obama made a speech in which he proposed preventative indefinite detention. This does not merely apply to those detainees where the U.S. claims they were involved in terrorist acts, but to those who the U.S. thinks might engage in terrorist activity in the future. Read Glenn Greenwald’s article about this Here. With the Obama administration indicating that several dozen of these detainees will be detained indefinitely at the Thomson facility this should make the hairs on the back of any one who cares about humanity stand up.
Lastly, I want to make it clear that I understand the people of this country are enduring a great deal of pressure economically. People are losing jobs and homes and so much more that goes along with that. But the question that I want to pose here is this: What does it say about a system that is responsible for this economic crisis when it pits one section of people against another to play at it fixing the economic situation?
While it may boost the economy of a few for the people of Thomson and provide jobs it will only do so for a few. Read this article for further emphasis Here Then there is as always the question: Are American lives more important than the lives of others? Dilwar was a young man in Afghanistan , whose family bought him a car to use as a taxi, because he was not that great of a farmer and was having difficulty providing for his family. One day he picked up a group of men and earlier that day a U.S. outpost had been bombed. He and the men he picked up where stopped and detained by the U.S. troops in connection with this bombing because someone had implicated him. He was taken to Bagram where was shackled from the cieling and his legs beaten to a pulp. He died just days after he was detained. It turns out that the man who implicated him was actually the one involved in the bombing of that outpost. Dilwar was like many men and women here in the U.S. today just trying to make it in the world-just trying to survive. As people living in this country we cannot allow our well being and survival rest on the inhumanity our government is inflicting on other people from across the globe.
Those being transferred from Guantanamo to the Thomson Correctional Facility must be given the right of habeas corpus. Here say evidence or evidence coerced by torture which includes sleep deprivation, stress positions, slaps, beatings etc. must not be admitted into their trial. Those whom the Obama administration states will be detained indefinitely must be released. There must be no such thing as indefinite detention without charges or trial or preventative indefinite detention. There must be no more Guantanamos anywhere.
I know this was lengthy, but the questions you posed are ones that people will be asking and it’s important for people to understand the full implications of bringing another Guantanamo into being. I hope that I have been able to give you a clearer picture. We cannot let the truth be buried for along with that justice is buried and ultimately our humanity. Thanks again, Pat for writing.
World Can’t Wait steering committee member