Gitmo Lawyers do Clients No Favors

October 20, 2009

Check out Washington Post writer Peter Finn’s excellent piece comparing the relatively safe and humane treatment high profile detainees receive at Guantanamo to what they will face if relocated to a US maximum security prison.

In many cases it appears that ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, and other representatives distrust the US military so much that they have sacrificed client’s rights to speedy process by endless legal delays of military commission process.

Now, so anxious to get detainee clients out of Gitmo, they are willingly putting them in a much more onerous place – Florence Max is cited in the article.

One must question: is all this legal hyper-activism really in their client’s interests? Or is it a reflection of a political agenda on the part of the attorneys involved?

Standish Max – An Easy Target for Terrorists

October 19, 2009

Standish Max prison sits just a couple of hundred yards off of Michigan highway 61, probably within a half-mile or so of Interstate 75.

The prison itself is sited attractively. Several acres of heavily forested hardwoods and conifers surround much of the facility screening it from casual view. A large sign, illuminated at night, identifies the facility and welcome vehicles approachingĀ  off the highway with a broad driveway and large parking lot. The road continues overĀ  a small stream crossed by a concrete bridge. Once across the bridge another parking space opens presenting a broad chain-link fence view of the prison exercise yard, the multiple buildings configured in a general U-shape, and the administration area protected by glass doors.

A multi-thousand gallon capacity propane tank sits parallel to the main road at the far right fence line.

Under normal circumstances this would be a proper maximum security facility. Designed effectively to keep prisoners in, not focused on potential outside threats.

The reasonable assessment is that Standish Max is highly vulnerable to attacks from outside. Even a small suicide bomber igniting the propane tank would be a disaster. A truck filled with ammonium nitrate explosive, al Qaeda’s weapon of choice, would yield catastrophic results.

Is anxiety over looming economic troubles so large that officials would knowingly endanger an innocent population for a will-of-the-wisp financial fix?

The majority of Standish seems to be aware of the danger, as are many in the state legislature. All efforts ought to be taken to bring US prisoners – from other states if necessary – to keep Standish Max open, but avoid the potential tragedy of importing Gitmo detainees to a facility woefully inadequate to repel committed jihadists intent on making a terrorist statement.

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Gitmo Detainees to Standish – A Clear and Present Danger

October 19, 2009

“…there is every reason to believe that the places of both trial and confinement for such defendants would become attractive targets for others intent on creating mayhem, whether it be terrorists intent on inflicting casualties on the local population, or lawyers intent on filing waves of lawsuits over issues as diverse as whether those captured in combat must be charged with crimes or released, or the conditions of confinement for all prisoners, whether convicted or not.”

Former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey succinctly captures the essence of many arguments against holding Guantanamo detainees on US soil in a Wall Street Journal article.

Today Standish City Council is holding an “emergency” meeting to discuss. Citizens are upset and aroused over what many perceive as a cavalier attitude by the council.

Watch this space for more news.

More on Standish – GUANTANAMO AS A SYMBOL AND RALLYING CRY

October 17, 2009

Just last spring President Obama defended his decision to close the Guantanamo prison camp by saying it “became a symbol that helped al-Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause… It is a rallying cry for our enemies,” Obama declared in a speech at the National Archives.

A rallying cry for our enemies… to turn their eyes towards little Standish Michigan? Simply change “Guantanamo” to “Standish” and you will see the net effect of a mere geographical relocation.

Certainly other prisons in the United States are already successfully housing some pretty terrible terrorists. That said, a few convicted violent Jihadists who are locked up in various facilities here and there across the country simply do not have the star-power of the 150-plus Guantanamo detainees — those who collectively represent the international symbol that President Obama referred to.

They include the masterminds of 9/11 and USS Cole, and many dozens more of the world’s most high-valued terrorists — all concentrated into one comparatively small yet extremely powerful population. These are not “lone wolf” crazies who operated independently: the Gitmo detainees include the most influential, idolized, and well-connected organizers and respected figures of the twisted violent fundamentalist movements reaching across the globe.

Their unique symbolism and stark differences from terrorists who were caught, tried, and convicted is magnified when one remembers that as a group, they have not been convicted of anything. Nonetheless, the current administration realizes that it would be too dangerous to simply let many them go, they must be confined to prevent them from carrying out repeated promises to kill Americans.

No, these are not at all like the handful of other terrorists already held here in this country.

Poor Standish – once a destination for tourists, hunters, fishermen, and outdoor activities – will overnight become Amnesty International’s new “gulag of our time” and a magnet for demonstrators, detainee-chasing attorneys anxious to make their bones, and perhaps committed fundamentalist terrorists eager to make an attack that will shock and stun Americans.

During our whirlwind tour we therefore sought to further explain that while the detainees may be properly secured at the prison, planting such a powerful symbol of international terrorism in a small community could inevitably attract “lone wolf” Jihadists bent on making a name for themselves, or even orchestrated acts of terrorism by organizing zealots intent on scoring points for their cause.

My NY Post Column on Relocating Detainees to US Soil

October 17, 2009

I recently wrote a piece for the New York Post on what I consider an ill-considered plan to relocate Guantanamo detainees to Standish Max prison in Standish, Michigan.

Find it here.

Standish Max – Not the Place to Move Gitmo Detainees

October 17, 2009

I just spent most of this week in Michigan hosted by the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North, speaking before audiences in Rochester, Lansing, and Standish, testifying before the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, and setting foot in the prison in question – Standish Max.

In Dave Munson’s Summer Trail Inn, Standish watering hole and best fish and chips you’ll find anywhere. Me, Dave, and Jeff McQueen from the Coalition and 2nd American Revolution.

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Here I am at the entrance to Standish Max prison just a couple of hundred yards off of Rt 61, Standish’s main street. Dave’s restaurant and most of the town are a few blocks away.

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Accompanying me on most of the visits was the esteemed terrorism expert Dr. Peter Leitner from the Washington, DC area. Listening to Peter was a mini-education in itself. He knows what the dangers of international Islamic terrorism are and shared them with audiences in a blunt, unequivocal manner.

I intend to continue this report over the next few days, so come back for more details.

Fight Over Standish Max Intensifies

October 9, 2009

The fight to bring Gitmo detainees to the soon-to-close Standish (MI) Max facility is intensifying. Many local citizens suspect that the Obama administration is planning to end-run their wishes and relocate detainees to Standish regardless of citizen opposition.

I will be appearing at town hall meetings next week at Standish in order to educate and inform the citizenry as to the scope and breath of the risks that they will face if this move is made.

If you are in the area please join us and lend your support to the great citizens of Standish as they fight for their rights.

White House Back-Peddling on Gitmo Closure

September 26, 2009

As predicted by several of us following the Guantanamo situation, the White House is belatedly leaking that the original date for closing the detention facility will be missed.

Flush with victory, the newly inaugurated President Obama probably thought that a one-year announcement for closure gave his staff plenty of time to resolve issues that opponents of closure thought were rather overwhelming.

Now, with the self-imposed January 2010 deadline mere months away, excruciatingly little progress has been made in the administration’s pledge to involve other countries in closure, relocate detainees, or even to formulate a basic plan for relocation.

As I’ve noted here several times, the most bipartisan reaction Obama has received from Congress to date has been almost universal push-back on his plan to bring Gitmo detainees on to US soil.

Already administration officials are falling back on their default position for all setbacks: blame their predecessors. We are hearing leaks that “detainee files were a mess,” and that “policies by the Bush administration” alienated potential allies in solving the thorny issue.

What the Obama people ignore is that an overwhelming percentage of Americans do not want the detainees transferred here and are quite supportive of keeping Gitmo opened.

Citizens of Michigan, where Standish Max has been designated as a possible relocation site, feel that their wishes have been ignored and fear that the administration may present them with a fait accompli by ramming through a decision to place detainees in their back yard.

While permitting any number of groups hostile to Guantanamo to visit the facility, the administration declined a request by Michigan representative Pete Hockstra and a group from Standish to visit, raising speculation that they were afraid that a true report on the facility – noting how efficient, humane, and safe that it is – might further complicate their previous decision.

Closing Gitmo? Deadline Hard on BHO

September 21, 2009

When President Obama, awash in the glory of his election victory and inauguration, arbitrarily announced Guantanamo closure a year distant it probably seemed a no-brainer. It appeared to Obama and his staff, as soldiers say, “too easy.”

Many of his base, in fact, decried the self-imposed deadline as far too long to remove what they see as a blot on America’s image abroad and an affront to justice.

Now, in mid-September, the apparently easy task of Gitmo closure has transmogrified into a sword over his head.

Panels begun in early spring to sort out the individual detainee cases and methodology for processing them have begged for deadline extensions. Already it is too late to transform an existing site into something suitable for the detainee population.

White House announced short-listed locations in the US have generated community push-back at a bipartisan level completely unanticipated by a tone-deaf administration.

Ft Leavenworth, KS has been taken off the table, and outrage from the alternative site, Standish Max, a prison in Standish, MI, is mounting.

Insiders are already saying that while Guantanamo will eventually close, “it won’t be by January.”

How is the President – already assailed by massive public dissatisfaction with policies of taxation and health care likely to react to this latest setback?

Guantanamo Suicide – Is KSM Calling the Shots?

June 3, 2009
When the first suicides took place at the Guantanamo detention facility in June 2006 Admiral Harry Harris described them as acts of “asymmetrical warfare.” His point was that a committed enemy will employ tactics that deviate from the accepted norm in order to turn a disadvantageous situation into a win.

Guantanamo authorities had long known that certain self-appointed detainee leaders had orchestrated the first unsuccessful mass suicide attempt in May 2006 (through deliberate pharmaceutical drug overdoses). A Navy investigation team learned that these same leaders planned the second mass suicide (hanging from torn sheets) and had intimidated or coerced other detainees into assisting or being quiet about the act.

It is quite likely that in this latest suicide by a Yemeni detainee, that it was also directed by camp leaders.

Why would they do this at this time, when things seem to be looking better for them?

There are several reasons, not least of which is the horrible “press conference” given by Uighur detainees to world media in which they castigated the US and compared their treatment to Hitler’s concentration camps, called President Obama a communist, and by their behavior displayed their core beliefs, essentially hatred for America. Had they acted differently and given the impression that they were just nice guys who were wrongly apprehended it would have strengthened their case for release.

Now, with that appealing precedent spoiled, camp leaders, such as the brilliant terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed, may feel the need to try quickly to swing sympathy back to their case. What better way to accomplish this than by a detainee suicide?

The act enrages the anti-Guantanamo activists and elicits sympathy from malleable media. It also increases pressure on the Obama administration, that seems more preoccupied with “what do they think about us” than with US public opinion.


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