June 10, 2007
My apologies for not posting this sooner; I've been out of pocket on this relatively fine Sunday. In any event, former Secretary (and General) Colin Powell spoke out strongly in favor of both habeas restoration and moving the Gitmo detainees into the civilian judicial system.
His remarks came in response to a question about the letter he wrote to Senator John McCain (who also has taken a similar position in recent debates) suggesting that many around the world have begun to doubt the "moral basis" of America's counter-terrorism efforts precisely because of the PR nightmare that is Gitmo.
The full transcript is here
. The choicest passage is this (bolded language especially):
GEN. POWELL: They are. Guantanamo has become a major, major problem for Americaâ€™s perception as itâ€™s seen, the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow, but this afternoon. Iâ€™d close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, â€œWell, then theyâ€™ll have access to lawyers, then theyâ€™ll have access to writs of habeas corpus.â€ So what? Let them. Isnâ€™t that what our systemâ€™s all about? And, by the way, America, unfortunately, has two million people in jail all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus. And so we can handle bad people in our system. And so I would get rid of Guantanamo and Iâ€™d get rid of the military commission system and use established procedures in federal law or in the manual for courts-martial. I would do that because I think itâ€™s a more equitable way to do it and itâ€™s more understandable in constitutional terms. I would alwaysâ€”I would also do it because every morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds. And so, essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in Americaâ€™s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We donâ€™t need it, and itâ€™s causing us far damage than any good we get for it. But, remember what I started in this discussion saying, â€œDonâ€™t let any of them go.â€ Put them into a different system, a system that is experienced, that knows how to handle people like this.