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Bob Werner: Vakay’s Gitmo: Just some more right-wing fear-

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Posted: June 19, 2009 9:03 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Lynn Vakay's "It's all about Gitmo, stupid" opinion column (The Signal, June 18) calls for a direct response.

First, let's put terrorism in perspective: in the past year, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. have died due to medical mistakes in hospitals.

Millions of Americans have seen their lives and dreams effectively destroyed by the financial crisis. And how many Americans have been killed by radical Islamic terrorists?

Yes, radical Islamic terrorism is an important issue, but for the past eight years, our "policy" has been to rampage around the world, invading and destroying several nations and bombing and killing anyone even suspected of "terrorist activity"... as well as anyone who happens to be nearby.

How's that been working, anyway?

The unfortunate (for the fear-mongers) truth is that terrorists of any ilk can attack us, they can hurt or kill some of us, but they cannot destroy us.

Only we can do that, by trashing our Constitution and laws, and by becoming as barbaric as our enemies.

That's what they really want - to bring us down to their level. If they can do that, they win.

Ms. Vakay, you speak of "political correctness" - is that what adherence to our Constitution means to you?

Most of all, you are wrong about the Guantanamo Naval Base.

Your claim that all Gitmo needs is "humane treatment" to somehow become a legitimate prison is odd, to say the least, because the treatment of the detainees has nothing to do with the fact that their basic, Constitutionally-guaranteed human rights are being violated by their indefinite, unjustified detention in a legal "black hole."

That's not my opinion, by the way - the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that this type of detention is unconstitutional.

As for Ahmed Ghailani, he was transferred to federal prison in New York to stand trial for the crimes he is accused of - in a real court, which adheres to the U.S. Constitution. Lots of terrorists have been convicted in Federal Court and are now rotting away in a Super-Max prison, and no, they are not subverting fellow inmates.

The three detainees sent to Saudi Arabia are being held in high security.

Yes, Saudi Arabia has a problem with terrorism, but if the situation there is as bad as you insinuate, don't you think we'd have a much bigger problem here?

What would you do with the detainee who was "implicated" in the murder of an American?

Both the U.S. military and the Justice Department investigated this crime, and both had the opportunity to prosecute this person, but both declined.

Ms. Vakay, do you teach your fourth-graders that our Constitution allows for indefinite detention of people without charge or trial just because they were implicated in a crime?

The unfortunate - for all of us - truth is that in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration failed to follow our Constitution and detained just about anyone for anything supposedly related to terrorism.

Most of those people had nothing to do with al-Qaida or terrorism, and many of them were sold to U.S. forces for cash bounty by our supposed allies in Afghanistan.

But instead of admitting its mistakes, the U.S. government has held these people, some for more than years, in spite of knowing early on that they had nothing to do with terrorism.

The Uighars are a prime example.

Yes, there are some hardened terrorists in Gitmo. Those who have committed crimes should be brought to justice.

And unfortunately, there are some who should be tried, convicted and sent to prison for the rest of their lives, but because they were tortured they may not be prosecutable, which raises a huge moral and legal dilemma - just part of the garbage left to us by Bush.

Ms. Vakay, I have another unfortunate fact for you: It's not illegal to hate America.

Finally, have you considered that, despite all the self-righteousness and flag-waving and contrived justifications, the United States does a lot of things around the world that other people hate, and for good reason?

Why is it so horrible to you that our president wants our country to behave in a manner that adheres not only to our Constitution and the treaties we have signed, but also to a reasonable moral standard as well?

Bob Werner is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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