Let Cuba Handle Guantanamo Suspects

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[Black Star News Editorial]

What to do with the 240 terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay is creating a huge dilemma for the Obama Administration.

Republicans now believe they’ve found something they can beat down President Obama with. Unindicted war criminal Dick Cheney has suddenly become the voice of those who want to exonerate those who abused power by claiming that torture was necessary to prevent another terrorist attack against the United States.

Democrats have overwhelmingly voted with Republicans in the Senate not to approve a war Bill that includes $80 million that the Obama Administration needs to shut down Guantanamo.

The obstacles include President Obama’s proposal to ship some of the suspects to U.S. soil for detention and eventual trial. The president has also spoken about the need to indefinitely detain some suspects without charging or trying them; ironically, the very argument the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney regime had maintained.

President Obama is right in assuring the nation that the captives would be secured in U.S. maximum prison facilities where no suspects have ever escaped.

However, that’s not the main problem. Bringing any suspect from Guantanamo for trial on U.S. soil proper presents many more serious problems beyond just whether the captives would never be able to escape.

Some people have objected to the president’s plan by claiming that some of the suspects, could end up being eligible for parole within the U.S.; others tried and acquitted could also be eligible to stay here, it is feared.

These aren’t very serious problems. Those paroled or acquitted after trial could be promptly deported to their countries of origin.

The bigger problems include:

Bringing captives to U.S. soil would provide a rallying symbol for those who share anti-U.S. sentiments with some of those Gauntanamo captives and it could actually provide stimulus for those who want to hit targets within the U.S. for as long as the suspects are held in captivity here.

It’s a different matter so long as the captives are now in Guantanamo; in Cuba. Bringing them to U.S. soil will generate heightened media attention and political debate –some responsible and others irresponsible.

For as long as the issue of the suspects dominate the public and media discourse, once they are brought to U.S. soil; to the same extent, will the value of these suspects as symbols to rally around also become elevated amongst their possible compatriots around the world.

The saddest aspect in all this is that the U.S. wasted valuable years during the Bush-Cheney regime by not trying to resolve the fate of the detainees: Under the Bush-Cheney vision of a permanent war, the belief was that the suspects would simply be detained forever.

No time was spent trying to determine which captives are legitimate terrorist combatants, and which ones were simply swept up under the huge dragnet.

The most efficient way to establish genuine suspects and those grabbed as collateral is not to relocate the suspects to U.S. soil. They must be kept in Cuba.

Investigators, including police agents from the suspects’ home countries should gather information from their home countries, including from friends, relatives and associates of the suspects there: these investigators and police agents can then come and join in the process of determining the culpability of suspects, in Cuba.

This process should be done in Cuba; but not necessarily at Guantanamo Bay. In fact, if Cuba wants to radically transform its relations with the United States, the Castro brothers should offer to work with the U.S. and offer to take in all the Guantanamo suspects.

This would allow the Obama Administration to still be able to shut down Guantanamo, as it proposes, sometime next year.

Why Cuba?

This would eliminate the need to relocate the suspects to U.S. soil. And by keeping the suspects in Cuba, they are not dispersed to their home countries prematurely before each suspects’ culpability is determined.

Cuba has one of the most proficient intelligence and police agents in the world and they too can become involved in determining culpability of the suspects. The entire process may take more than a year for some suspects; shorter period for others.

Also Cuban detention wouldn’t inspire attacks on Cuba, which unlike the U.S., is not regarded as an imperial power.

Those determined to warrant trial would then be tried by a Special Court created in Cuba. What laws to adjudicate can be negotiated between the U.S. and Cuba with involvement of legal experts from the United Nations.

Those convicted could serve their time in Cuban facilities; those acquitted or paroled could also live in Cuba where they can be monitored by Cuba’s very efficient secret police.

Sadly, even those acquitted could propose danger in the short term before their re-integration into society: While some may have been totally innocent when captured, the years of illegal captivity may have created the desire to settle some scores. Obviously this impulse can also be ameliorated with monetary compensation for those determined to have been innocent.

What incentive would Cuba have to become involved? To begin with, money: The $80 million that Congress voted down and some millions more that would have gone into incarcerating the suspects on U.S. soil. Maybe for $250 million Cuba could entertain this proposal.

The major benefit for Cuba however is that it will become involved in working together with the U.S. on something that the U.S. now needs real help with.

What better way to pave the way towards normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S.?

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