President Barack Obama this morning requested that all prosecutions in the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay be suspended for 120 days pending review. We can only assume that in this case "review" means reviewing the best way to close down the prison and move what trials will continue to U.S. soil. Hopefully it will end this sad chapter in American history, which will go down in history, along with Japanese interment camps, the McCarthy witch hunts, the Alien and Sedition acts, and Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus, as one of our supremely wrong-headed ideas that was carried out for the safety of the union. May it be relegated to the dustbin of history ASAP.
OF course it creates a number of problems. Reportedly the evidence in some of these cases is so weak, and in some cases so tainted by improper procedure, including torture, that many cases probably cannot be prosecuted at a real trial where the defendant has the right to review the evidence against him and confront his accusers. That might include those on trial for complicity in the September 11th attacks. And that is nobody's fault but Bush's, for insisting on this kangaroo court in the first place.
The first person the order affected was Omar Kahdr, a Toronto native who was charged and supporting terrorism and murder for killing an Army Sargent with a grenade in a battle in Afganistan in 2002. Kahdr was 15 at the time. THis is how it was reported by the AP. Now, I don't want to sound un-patriotic or insensitive to the family of the dead soldier, and if somebody killed somebody I loved over there I'd certainly want revenge. But even if a fifteen year old boy can form the intent to commit murder, which has long been in doubt, since when is killing someone in a battle terrorism? I'm not an expert here, but something doesn't make sense. A lot of the prosecutions seem to work this way. If this is a war, as Bush always claimed, then it needs to be treated as a war. If it is a crime then it needs to be treated as a crime. But this flip-floping back and forth is one of the things that so totally discredited the Bush approach to terrorism. What it looked like in the end was that Bush was going to do whatever he wanted and then find legal justification for it after the fact.
Anyway, good riddance.