Inhofe bill seeks to reverse Obama, send suspected terrorists to Guantanamo Bay

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      John Rossomando

      John Rossomando is an experienced journalist whose work has been featured in numerous publications such as CNSNews.com, Newsmax and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.

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Not a single high-value detainee has been sent to the terrorist detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) since Barack Obama became president, but Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Inhofe hopes to change that with legislation.

Critics contend the president’s policy has hamstrung the intelligence community in their efforts to collect intelligence about potential terror suspects and thwart their plans. The Obama administration has instead opted to detain and interrogate detainees it considers to be of high value in Afghanistan under the eyes of the CIA and the FBI.

Enhanced rendition interrogation techniques such as waterboarding were banned by President Obama shortly after he took office, and interrogators may now only use those techniques permitted in the Army Field Manual.

Current policies and interference from the Afghan government make it extremely difficult to interrogate and keep track of detainees once they are caught in Afghanistan. This has reportedly angered many American service personnel, and The Washington Examiner quoted a marine as having described efforts to capture Taliban members as “worthless.”

“Once we find them and begin to interrogate them, we don’t have a free hand,” Inhofe told The Daily Caller. “We need to get a lot of these high-value detainees who are high enough up…That’s how we got Osama bin Laden.”

Inhofe calls the Afghanistan detention facilities “revolving doors” because we don’t have any idea who is coming and going.

“Some 400 of them in Afghanistan are out trying to kill Americans again  ̶  the ones we actually caught,” Inhofe said, referring to the detainees who have been caught by the U.S. and who have been let go due to interference from the Afghan government.

Other independent estimates place that number closer to 500.

Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy and a former assistant secretary of Defense under Reagan, called the current policy “crazy” and said detaining these prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and subjecting them to interrogations there should be put back on the table.

“Other bad ideas include handing them (detainees) over to the Afghans because of jailbreaks and their having shown their inability to detain them securely,” Gaffney said.

Many contend, including intelligence officials, that detainee interrogations at Guantanamo Bay thwarted al-Qaida terror plots such as attacks on domestic tourist sites in 2003 and 2004, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s plot to blow up tall buildings across the United States and a 2003 plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, among others.

“We got all of our initial leads from Gitmo from high-value detainees,” Inhofe said. “We have only 17 people there now; we ought to have 800.”

The Obama administration’s revolving door policy on high-value detainees is part and parcel of its weakness on security policy, according to Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Current legislation makes who is and who is not a high-value detainee a matter of subjective opinion, but Inhofe’s bill, S 1046, would legally define high-value detainees as senior members of the Taliban or al-Qaida, anyone with knowledge of immanent terrorist threats to the United States or its allies, those who are directly involved in terror plots and those who would be a renewed terror threat were they to be released.

Sending such high-value detainees to Gitmo would not be without risks, according to Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Charles “Cully” Stimson, who served as deputy assistant defense secretary for detainee affairs in the Bush administration.

“The executive branch has wide latitude to decide where to send detainees captured during a time of war,” Stimson said. “There would be serious consequences were what is being suggested in the bill to happen.”

One of the advantages of keeping detainees in Afghanistan rather than in Guantanamo Bay is they cannot challenge their detention through the civil courts because of their status as unlawful combatants.

But that would change should Inhofe’s bill to make it into law because court precedent has recognized that Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to continually challenge their detention even if they lose the first time, according to Stimson.

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  • Kurtis D. Davis

    It does not appear this government knows much more about prosecution of war than it does concerning sworn oath to preserve the Constitution—in this latter instance, we need only consider Libya.

    Basic research indicates the so called “terrorists”, captured in a theatre of war, are properly defined as being “unlawful combatants”, further subject to the D0MESTIC laws of the detaining power.

    In no instance does international or domestic law authorize prisoner torture, and this prohibition surely includes Chinese water torture (“waterboarding”).

    Owing to the needs of George Bush, do you think if he were locked in a prison cell, so as to “enhance” his personal security, that he would know the difference? Why do you think the Swiss government recently informed him that he would be prosecuted for war crimes, upon entering said country?

    The whole issue of these prisoners, their exact status, and their treatment, is terribly confused. As a result, we bear witness to sad departure from the military discipline of George Washington, and seem to be asserting that “two wrongs make a right”. This not to mention damage to U.S. reputation, and reciprocal torture by our “terrorist” enemy.

    It seems reasonable to yield fair trial to unlawful combatants, and upon lawful conviction, to humanely execute or punish as a judge sentences.

    In every past war declared by Congress, it was Congress which declared end to such war, through Senate ratification of TREATY. Normal treaty may be expected to spell out all post war conditions, including reparations. As per Iraq, why do we fail to ratify treaty, as would allow low cost oil to pay the expense of ousting Hussein? Do we have a “paper sack” this sickly government can’t fight out of? Once again, this government does not appear to know how to properly prosecute war.

    • opaobie

      Mr. Davis, you might want to take your own advice and “do some basic research”.

      Basic research indicates the so called “terrorists”, captured in a theatre of war, are properly defined as being “unlawful combatants”, further subject to the MILITARY laws of the detaining power.

      Even the usually suspect “Wikipedia” got this much right:

      In the 1942 Supreme Court of the United States ruling Ex Parte Quirin, the Court uses the terms with their historical meanings to distinguish between unlawful combatants and lawful combatants: Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals.

      We’ve already seen what a fiasco trying terrorists as “criminals” in CIVILIAN courts has been.

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  • Oblama

    “Enhanced rendition interrogation techniques such as waterboarding were banned by President Obama shortly after he took office” but shooting an unarmed bin Laden in the face was OK with him.

  • thephranc

    Wasn’t this place shut down in the first year of Obama’s reign? He did promise….

    • Drahcir

      Well you do know about all those “promises” and a hill of beans.


  • WarriorLemming

    “Critics contend the president’s policy has hamstrung the intelligence community in their efforts to collect intelligence”

    President Obama didn’t have a problem taking down bin Laden with the intelligence collection he had. The Bush administration failed…..well, actually they gave up looking. ;)

    • Oblama

      Yea it only took him six months to make up his mind to do it. :-(

    • oc in nc

      Lemming,the intel your hero Obama had was which hole he was on at the Golf course.

      Inhofe states that 400 are back out killing Americans,the ones we caught.

      Don’t tie a man’s hand behind his back and expect him to fight.

      We just lost Three Green Berets from 3rd group Sunday.

      You care to explain to the families why your superhero Obama was not there with all this wealth of knowledge you claim he has to save them?

      God rest their souls. De Oppresso Liber.

    • BigRmv

      Lemming–President Obama did give the order to “take down” (kill) Osama bin Laden and should get credit for that. However, I don’t think making the decision to go after the most wanted man in the world was a real tough call. Not doing it would have been much more difficult.

      Now, propagating lies about the previous administration or believing that somehow the US stopped fighting terrorism following 9/11 and only your hero Obama was up to the task is a different thing. I wasn’t–and I suspect neither were you–in on any of the daily Security Report briefings ANY of the presidents in my lifetime have received. So I don’t pretend that I could have made better decisions. How is it you feel comfortable making that leap?

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