Is This Really an Inter-Administration GTMO Clash?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, testified that imprisoning some Guantanamo detainees in the United States would make it politically easier for European allies to take custody of some of the detainees. Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, testified to some concerns about holding Guantanamo detainees in America, out of fears that they’ll radicalize other inmates or conduct terrorist activities from within the prisons. Are these really, as Politico’s David Cloud writes, “sharply different views” between two senior administration officials?

Cloud’s a good reporter and these are certainly views in tension. But Mueller didn’t oppose jailing Guantanamo detainees in the United States, he brought up solid practical concerns. And they appear to have intuitive solutions. For instance: isolate the detainees or restrict their access to non-terrorist convicts. I’m not a lawyer, but none of the remaining 240 detainees are American citizens, so presumably they’d have fewer rights in prison. That could probably lead to a justification for, say, increased surveillance of their prison activities or additional restrictions on their access to visitors, communications, and so forth. (I’ll withdraw that if the premise is incorrect, of course.)

Flournoy and Mueller: pretty reconcilable.

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Comments

2 Comments

njc
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

Once they're on American soil–and in many respects even before then–the detainees would have the same rights as U.S. citizens. Prisoners however have fewer and/or more constrained rights than non-prisoners. As long as there's a credible safety concern and the methods employed to address it are narrowly tailored to meet that compelling governmental interest, you'd be good to go.

The danger of radicalization of U.S. citizen prisoners is under-examined. It could be a real problem inasmuch as U.S. citizen terrorists have a greater familiarity with the country and greater freedom of movement. All the same, it's no reason not to prosecute and imprison these guys.


njc
Comment posted May 21, 2009 @ 1:46 am

Once they're on American soil–and in many respects even before then–the detainees would have the same rights as U.S. citizens. Prisoners however have fewer and/or more constrained rights than non-prisoners. As long as there's a credible safety concern and the methods employed to address it are narrowly tailored to meet that compelling governmental interest, you'd be good to go.

The danger of radicalization of U.S. citizen prisoners is under-examined. It could be a real problem inasmuch as U.S. citizen terrorists have a greater familiarity with the country and greater freedom of movement. All the same, it's no reason not to prosecute and imprison these guys.


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