Tag Archives: Gitmo

Let’s play the ‘What if … ?’ game

I like playing this game on occasion. I call it the game of “What If … ?” I usually wonder “What If … ?” another president had done any of the things that have been alleged against Donald John Trump Sr., let alone the things he’s already admitted to doing.

This porn star story is just the latest example.

CNN talking head Van Jones noted the other day that President Barack Obama would be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — where the United States detains terror suspects — if he had done the things alleged to have been done by the current president.

The more I think about it, the truer it sounds.

It all falls back on the question I keep asking in private as well as out loud; I’ve posed it on this blog.

How in the world does the president’s support base — which includes the evangelical Christian community — tolerate this stuff? He is alleged to have taken a tumble with a porn star a year into his third marriage and just after the birth of his youngest child. The faithful among Trump’s supporters have remains silent. We’re hearing nothing but crickets, man! They give him a pass.

If any of this had happened regarding, say, President Obama, there would be demonstrations in front of the White House, calls for the president’s impeachment and — as Jones suggested — armed security storming into the White House to haul the president off in handcuffs and shackles.

OK, I exaggerate. You get the point.

As Jones said on CNN: “If Barack Obama had done just half of what Trump did last week, he would have been impeached. He’d be in Guantanamo,” Van said, a former adviser to Obama. “They’d have said ‘Listen, something’s wrong with this guy. He’s no longer here. Biden’s the president … we’re moving on.’” 

Trump said he’d shake things up when he got elected president. Boy, howdy! Has he ever. He’s shaken up our national sense of outrage.

Trump’s Twitter fingers might muck up search for justice

Donald Trump’s Twitter fingers need to be tied up, rendered inoperable … maybe.

The president went bonkers the other day when a man rammed a rented truck into a New York City crowd. He said the suspect, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, should (a) be sent to Gitmo as an “enemy combatant” and (b) face the death penalty.

Oops, Mr. President. You shouldn’t say such a thing, given that you’ve already called the U.S. justice system a “joke” and a “laughingstock.”

The president walked back his Gitmo remark, but is holding firm to his view that the NYC drug-ramming suspect deserves to receive the death penalty. Legal analysts suggest that Trump’s tweet on that issue might complicate efforts to prosecute this guy. It could make it easier for the man’s legal counsel to obtain a lesser penalty if, of course, he gets convicted of killing those eight people in what is being called an act of terror.

The suspect is a radical Muslim who came here legally in 2010 and then professed allegiance to the Islamic State.

As the New York Times has reported: Presidents are typically advised never to publicly weigh in on pending criminal cases. Such comments can be used by defense attorneys to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial — especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute a case advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial.

Of course, none of these concerns about the president’s idiotic Twitter rampages is likely to register with the man himself. He doesn’t care or doesn’t understand the potential consequences of his actions and public statements.


Will the president recognize his Afghan reversal?

Donald John Trump is preparing to speak to the nation tonight about Afghanistan. The word that’s being reported is that the president is planning to announce the addition of several thousand more troops to the conflict that’s been raging for the past 16 years.

The president is getting high marks for recognizing the difference between campaigning and governing. Indeed, President Barack Obama campaigned for office pledging to close the terrorist internment camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the camp is still open.

Trump has been a huuuuge critic of the Afghan War. He tweeted repeatedly prior to and during his presidential campaign that the war is a lost cause, that we shouldn’t shed any more American blood in Afghanistan.

Now he’s the commander in chief. He’s expected now to say something quite different from what he said while campaigning for the job.

Will the president take a moment tonight to acknowledge that maybe — just maybe — he might have been incorrect in his prior world view? Might he concede finally that he didn’t see the picture as completely as he does now?

That’s what grownups do. They atone for previous statements.

What’s more, my hope — if not my expectation — is that the president will accept responsibility for any potential setbacks that occur once the troops are deployed to Afghanistan. Will he, as commander in chief, realize that he is ultimately responsible for any result stemming from the decisions he makes — be they good or bad?

The record to this point doesn’t portend much maturity coming from the president.

I hope I am wrong.

9/11 mastermind tells the Mother of all Lies

Khalid Sheik Mohammed blames the United States of America for the terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 innocent victims on Sept. 11, 2001.

Imagine that.

The 9/11 mastermind says it’s our fault.

We are to blame because 19 madmen boarded jetliners and flew them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon — and struggled with passengers before crashing a third plane into a Pennsylvania field.

Mohammed wrote this fantasy in a length letter to President Barack Obama.

According to the Miami Herald: “‘I will be happy to be alone in my cell to worship Allah the rest of my life and repent to Him all my sins and misdeeds,’ he says in the letter that he wrote at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“‘And if your court sentences me to death, I will be even happier to meet Allah and the prophets and see my best friends whom you killed unjustly all around the world and to see sheik Osama bin Laden.'”

They’ll both rot in hell.

He said in his letter that U.S. “tyrants” have brought death to the Middle East. The letter had been hidden from the public until just this week.

In truth, Mohammed’s case is another one of those that tests my opposition to capital punishment.

This guy isn’t a U.S. citizen. He’ll go on trial — eventually! — for the plot he concocted and the terrible act of war he committed against this country.

I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that he’ll get a one-way ticket to the death chamber whenever a jury gets around to convicting him.

Yes, I still oppose capital punishment — even for monsters such as this one. When Mohammed checks out of this world, though, I won’t shed a tear.

If only our nation’s judicial system would get busy and dispose of this heinous killer.

Hey we may be friends, but we’re not that close

arm raising

Talk about an awkward moment.

It happened today at the end of a joint press conference with President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro.

The picture attached here tells it all.

Castro sought to raise President Obama’s hand in some sort of show of bilateral solidarity.

Obama would have none of it. He managed to avoid grasping Castro’s hand and when the Cuban president raised the U.S. president’s hand, he ended up grabbing his wrist.

President Obama’s hand went limp.

It was really a strange sight. Don’t you think?

I suppose President Obama might have taken offense at the scolding Castro delivered to American reporters who had the temerity to ask him about human rights abuses in Cuba. Or maybe it was Castro’s insistence that the United States give back the land it owns at Guantanamo Bay.

Or … maybe it was that it’s just a bit too early in this rebuilt relationship to grasp hands and lift them jointly in a show of unity.

The nations have some distance yet to travel before they get to that point.

Thus, I believe President Obama — without saying a word — delivered a message of his own to his Cuban hosts.


Why all this fuss over Gitmo?

Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of military police during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray of Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in this January 11, 2002 file photograph. A cache of classified U.S. military documents provides intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who been detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The secret documents, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, reveal that most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, the newspaper said in its report late on April 24, 2011.  REUTERS/Stringer/Files (CUBA - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS) - RTXL0IH

I’ll admit that I’m very late in this discussion, but here goes anyway.

Guantanamo Bay — aka Gitmo — has been the subject of a lot of political discussion since it began housing terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

I’ve listened to the back-and-forth on all these years and am left to ponder: Why has this effort been so contentious?

President Obama said today he’s going to “change course” and move to close the detention center on the U.S. Navy base in Cuba before he leaves office. He wants to relocate the detainees to the United States.

It’s not that I fear bringing them here. They are being kept under serious lockdown at Gitmo. It’s safe to presume that whatever federal lockup gets them that they will be treated with the same seriousness.

Again, why the consternation over their detention at the military site?

The 9/11 attacks provoked a ferocious initial response from the U.S. military. It embarked on a mission to kill and/or capture as many terrorists as it could. Those who were captured were brought to Gitmo, which existed long before the terrorist attacks on D.C. and New York City.

There reportedly were abuses of prisoners at Gitmo. However, does the location of the alleged abuses matter? What if they had occurred at, say, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where the military operates another hard-time lockup for military prisoners?

The suggestions by some foes of closing Gitmo that bringing them to the United States somehow puts Americans at increased risk doesn’t wash.

Still, the suggestions that we must close Gitmo because it somehow doesn’t comport with “American values” is equally nonsensical.

The individuals housed at Gitmo are seriously dangerous criminals who’ve been accused of committing acts of war against the United States of America. Whether they’re locked up at the island detention center or somewhere on U.S. soil doesn’t seem to matter one little bit.

Our Navy base is as secure as any of our installations.

Therefore, now that I’m awakened — finally — to this critical issue, someone will have to explain to me why it became so critical in the first place.


Where have you gone, Sgt. Bergdahl?

Bowe Bergdahl has disappeared, more or less, from the public’s sights.

You might remember the name. He is the U.S. Army sergeant who had been held captive for a couple of years by the Taliban. Then he got released in exchange for five prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — or more specifically, at the U.S. Navy detention center set up there.

Some of the former prisoners reportedly returned to the war against the United States and one of them is believed to be a leader in the Islamic State terrorist group that has been beheading captives.

Bergdahl’s release became the subject of much discussion by Americans. Why were we negotiating with terrorists? Was the price too great to pay for a single U.S. soldier? Did Bergdahl give away too many secrets to his captors? Did he abandon his post and, in effect, desert the Army?

It’s the final question that seemed to cause the most angst among Americans who thought the government paid too much to gain the release of a soldier who they believe wasn’t worth bringing home.

Well, he was returned to U.S. hands, went into seclusion, then went home to Idaho to be with his friends and family and has returned to active duty.

The Army brass said it would investigate the entire sequence of events and determine whether Bergdahl did what the critics said he did.

I’m still waiting.

Meanwhile, the nation’s attention has been pulled in so many directions, I cannot keep track.

Crises erupt here, there — and everywhere.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s story still hasn’t been told. If it meant so much at the time of his release to learn all the details of his captivity and his return to freedom, then it still ought to matter.

Apology won't cut it

Betting is for fools, but if I were a betting man I’d say the White House apology for brokering the prisoner exchange to gain the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl won’t quiet the Capitol Hill critics.

To be honest, I don’t blame congressional critics for being ticked off.


The White House has called it an “oversight” that it didn’t notify congressional leaders in advance of the release and the exchange. Officials issued the apology to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. House Speaker John Boehner says it’s more than an oversight; he believes the White House knew Congress would kill the deal. I’ll leave it mind readers to determine whether Boehner knows what he’s talking about.

Still, the deal has enraged members of both parties in both houses of Congress.

A 2013 law required congressional notification of such activity. The White House had said initially that it did tell some lawmakers that a deal was in the works. Now, though, the White House is singing a different tune.

Here’s another question that needs asking: Did you or did you not talk to Capitol Hill about this deal in advance?

Do I think a crime was committed here? No. I think we have instead a terrible political miscalculation that well could explode all over the president, his national security team and the Pentagon.

A deeper concern for me is whether Sgt. Bergdahl deserted his post. Does that preclude his country seeking his release from the Taliban? No. It does raise questions that need some air-tight answers.

Did he walk away from his post? Did his doing so put his comrades at undue risk? Did he go willingly with the Taliban when they captured him?

Offering an apology might assuage a tiny bit of anger among some lawmakers. However, if they have a role to play under the law in these kinds of warfare “transactions,” they have reason to demand some answers.

Moreover, Sgt. Bergdahl has some serious questions awaiting him when he gets home.

Ex-POW begins long journey home

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is coming home.

After five years in captivity at the hands of Taliban terrorists, Bergdahl is coming home to Hailey, Idaho. He’ll get there in due course, probably soon.

However, based on what the world heard today, his journey back to what he used to know as “home” will require much patience and as much perseverance as the soldier and his family demonstrated in trying to get him released.


In a brief ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, with President Obama standing with them, Bowe’s parents — Bob and Jani Bergdahl — asked for the media to give them some privacy and distance.

Their son, it is believed, might have trouble relearning the English language, as he had been held captive by Taliban fighters who spoke only their own tribal dialect. Indeed, Bob Bergdahl today uttered a few sentences to his son in some dialect, hoping his son would hear him.

The release is part of an exchange with five Taliban guerrillas being held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban prisoners are being turned over to officials in Qatar, who helped broker the deal. They’re supposed to be under some sort of travel restriction, along with other security measures being taken to keep them on a short leash. It remains to be seen, of course, whether those restrictions will hold up. The men going back to the Middle East are known to be highly dangerous murderers.

As for Sgt. Bergdahl, a grateful nation will welcome him home as the only American POW from the Afghan War that is now winding down.

He need not be smothered, though, with our collective affection. As his parents indicated today, the young man has been through hell that no one else even can imagine. He needs a lot of space.

Global war on terror far from over

The standing down today of 21 U.S. embassies around the world because of so-called terrorist “chatter” has opened up a bit of a debate over whether President Obama said the “global war on terror is over.”

It also illustrates how headlines can be, well, a bit misleading.


The headline on this link illustrates the point.

It tells of speech Obama made in May in which he declared a significant change in U.S. strategy in fighting international terrorists. He vowed to end drone strikes, restated his intention to close the U.S. terrorist prison in Guantanamo, Cuba and declared that the global war as we’ve known it since 9/11 has come to an end.

But as I read the story contained in the attached link, I read that the president declared his intention to keep looking for bad guys, to keep searching for their hiding places and to kill or capture them whenever possible.

Yet, the president’s many critics in the conservative mainstream media keep harping on half-truths and keep trying to put words in his mouth in the wake of the embassy stand-down.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to remain at war with international terrorist organizations throughout the remainder of Barack Obama’s time in office and we’re going to keep fighting that war well into the next administration’s tenure in the White House. Heck, we might still be fighting them for the rest of all of our lives.

Our strategies do change, though, as circumstances warrant. That’s what I’m hearing the president say about the global war on terror.