Like Mark Twain, the demise of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay may have been somewhat exaggerated. The US has transferred nineteen captured terrorists to Gitmo this year, including the latest from Afghanistan. Only identified as “Inayatullah”, he admitted to running an al-Qaeda organization in Iran:
An Afghan national accused of links with al-Qaeda has been transferred to the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the Pentagon has said.
The man, named only as “Inayatullah”, was captured during operations in Afghanistan, a Pentagon statement said.
The US military say he admitted being the leader of al-Qaeda in Zahedan, Iran and planned and directed al-Qaeda terrorist operations. …
“Inayatullah met with local operatives, developed travel routes and coordinated documentation, accommodation and vehicles for smuggling unlawful combatants throughout countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq,” the Pentagon said.
Guantanamo Bay serves a useful purpose, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. The US has no other options for terrorists captured on the battlefield, out of uniform and not representing any legitimate state authority. These terrorists present a real danger to the US while at large, and the US has every right to act in its own defense while at war with unlawful combatants.
People captured under these circumstances should have no access to American civil courts, for the simple reason that they are not criminals in the civil sense. Their “crimes” take place in theaters of war outside the United States, which would put the terrorists outside of the jurisdiction of these courts in any case. The framers of the Constitution never intended it to apply to foreign organizations waging war against the United States, and until this war, no serious person ever proposed that it should. Those who decry the supposed loss of habeas corpus cannot point to a single instance where enemies captured outside of the US out of uniform have ever been granted access to American courts to adjudicate their cases.
Critics have demanded the closure of Guantanamo Bay’s detention center, but none of them acknowledge the need for military detention centers somewhere to handle its function. Captured terrorists can’t just be released, nor does the military have the option of just shooting them. Gitmo has the virtue of not requiring the transfer of rabid terrorists onto the American mainland, where an escape in transition could have deadly consequences. Even if we closed Gitmo, we would have to do the same thing we do now with captured terrorists; we’ll just do it at a different address.
If terrorists don’t want to spend their lives at Gitmo, they have a clear option — stop being terrorists, or at least be smart enough not to get caught. Those who plot against civilians and our troops while violating the Geneva Convention requirements on wearing uniforms and avoiding civilian casualties do not deserve any other considerations than a military tribunal and the rest of their lives to regret their poor decisions.