Will Guantanamo’s Terrorist Detention Center Reopen for Business?

A few days ago, the attorney general of the United States and his deputy visited the terrorist detention center embedded within the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman, they went to familiarize themselves with the operation there — now down to just a ghost of its former self, after multiple releases during the Obama administration.

The visit, and the spokesman’s remarks, have prompted active speculation that President Trump intends to reinvigorate use of the center for enemy combatants (jihadist terrorists, one and all) who are captured on fields of battle in far-flung places around the globe: the Middle East and Near Asia, of course, but potentially also Africa, including Somalia, where al Shabaab rules great swaths — in sum, wherever U.S. forces are actively engaged in combat operations against the groups they represent.

I hope that the speculation is true. Former President Barack Obama did this nation a disservice with his continued attempts to shut down Guantanamo, first by trying to force construction of supermax penitentiaries or brigs in the continental United States to house the remaining incorrigibles and then, when that failed, by repeatedly releasing detainees whom his own secretary of defense had called “the worst of the worst” into the care of third-world countries that promised to supervise them like some kind of international probation and parole service, only to promptly lose them back to battlefields or shadowy no man’s lands where they could once again pick up the banner of jihad.

Here is the hard truth: We cannot afford to leave them free and unfettered; they are too dangerous. Prior evidence shows that putting them in the hands of others to ensure they cause no more harm is a trust misplaced. Incarcerating them on the mainland, at a time when the confluence of litigious groups and activist judges virtually guarantees their ultimate release into our midst, is suicidal insanity (see here and here).

What are we left with? A tiny chunk of land originally leased from Cuba in 1903 and maintained since, over the objections of the communist regime, in which the U.S. exercises control but over which Cuba maintains soberania definitiva (“ultimate” or “definitive sovereignty”). This latter fact has worked to U.S. interests because it means that the U.S. Constitution and laws are of only limited effect and, most significantly, that aliens — the “enemy combatant” foreign jihadist fighters — incarcerated there have never set foot into the United States. This, in turn, has proven to be the most effective protection of the rights and safety of the American public, while at the same time permitting our armed forces to protect themselves against the significant physical and politico-religious dangers that these men represent.

So if that is the president’s plan, let us all be thankful.

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