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Guantánamo and Roses

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Nancy Talanian


U.S. government officials today inspected a Michigan prison to determine its suitability for current Guantánamo detainees.  (See Feds to tour Michigan prison where Gitmo detainees could go.)
More and more it appears that President Obama plans to close Guantánamo by moving the detainees to a prison on the U.S. mainland, as though the Caribbean location were the problem, and not the unlimited “preventive detention” without charges or court oversight.  Such a move, if it takes place, would feed the growing misperception among Americans that the detainees at Guantánamo are all inhuman terrorists who are too dangerous to bring to mainland prisons, much less charge and try or release.
Perhaps the economy of a community or two whose prison lacks prisoners would benefit from the move. But the main beneficiaries of keeping Guantánamo's rotten-to-the-core principles as part of any makeover are its perpetrators and supporters, who will likely continue to scream “not in my backyard” just to keep Obama and the public off-balance and will show how fiscally responsible they are by barring any money to fund any transfer of detainees. There is no better place for them than Guantánamo, they say.  But moving Guantánamo's baggage to a new address will not bring the administration closer to compliance with constitutional or international law, and it will not make the world safer.
Nearly seven months of turmoil have passed since President Obama signed his executive order to close Guantánamo. Five months remain to end that turmoil with a grassroots campaign in our communities to replace the bankrupt “worst of the worst” labels with the truth. Shakespeare's Juliet observed that a rose would smell as sweet no matter its name. Likewise, Guantánamo prison would offend no matter its address unless it complies with the law.