Archive for Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gitmo should stay open

August 13, 2009

By Bill Graveman

Elections matter, sometimes greatly, which is a hard thing to remember when election time is near.

Promises made before elections typically matter little, but sometimes the adage about “be careful what you wish for” takes on a new, very personal meaning.

I am not sure the post-election reality of “Change You Can Count On” is what citizens were voting for in 2008. Specifically, President Obama’s promise before the election to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison for War on Terror detainees now takes on a new meaning as it becomes clearer that Leavenworth County is one of the leading candidates for the detainees’ new home.

The promise was to “chart a new course” for the War on Terror, which now has come true largely as a name change (“Overseas Contingency Operation”), plus a desperate search for a prison in the continental United States that will take the detainees and organize trials.

Americans who before the election understood the gravity of the problem realized this meant the Leavenworth facility was one of the two or three facilities in the US with a bull’s-eye. This is because no community would want to take high-risk prisoners just for the notoriety of it, so Obama would have to lean on the military, which he could do without Congress’s approval.

As for me, I have no doubt whatsoever that all of us who are residents of Leavenworth County will be safe from the detainees. If anybody can keep ’em in, it’s us. But that’s not the issue.

The issue is that these prisoners may at some time have sympathizers and/or sleeper terror cells in the United States who may do anything, including mass murder using weapons of mass destruction, to publicize their case. Leavenworth and environs would presumably go from near the bottom of the best-place-to-terrorize list to much nearer the top.

President Obama got elected largely by directing his “Change” appeal to the young and nave among us. He promised to end the war in Iraq and re-fashion the War on Terror. Now that he is in office and has to face the harsh light of reality, his campaign promises mostly cannot be implemented, save closing down Guantanamo and moving the prisoners. As Commander-in-Chief, the Army’s Leavenworth facilities can be re-tasked as he sees fit.

Since the election, Obama has basically continued the Iraq policies instituted by the previous occupant of the Oval Office. All talk of a quick pullout from Iraq are curiously absent after the election.

Furthermore, Obama has also ramped up the “Overseas Contingency Operation” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a sure-bet policy of the past president were he to still be in office.

We Kansans are used to hardships and risks; our forefathers would consider me a whiner for what I have written. True enough, but the vicissitudes of today’s War on Terror being what they are, I prefer keeping Guantanamo open and well-occupied.

At times we are all asked to endure things not of our own volition. This may be one of them. I pray for all our safety and for the wisdom of our leaders, and for the ability for all of us to accept what we are given with grace.

Change you Can Count On. I’ve had enough, thank you.

— Contact Bill Graveman by email:


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