Clarifying Rand's Position on GuantanamoSubmitted by Wes Messamore on Sat, 11/21/2009 - 14:56
After expressing my concern about Rand Paul's statements regarding Guantanamo, I got a message yesterday from Rand Paul 2010 spokesman Chris Hightower (whom I know personally and for whom I can vouch as a really great guy).
He wrote to clarify some of Rand's position, and I'm posting the text of his clarification below with some of my own emphasis on certain parts:
The orginal post did not say that Rand Paul wanted to try the terrorists in the US but the Grayson campaign falsely asserted that it did. The question of closing down GITMO is a separate question.
Rand Paul feels that more important than the location of the prison is whether or not we should be detaining anyone, anywhere without a judicial hearing.
Rand Paul remains committed to his opposition to fighting "undeclared" wars. Rand Paul remains committed to the belief that we should not torture prisoners of war. Rand Paul remains committed to his belief that prisoners deserve trials and disposition not indefinite detention.
This current controversy, though, stems from whether or not prisoners of war should be treated identically to US Citizens. Should we read Miranda rights to prisoners captured on the battlefield? Should we release KSM because he was tortured? There are reports that a great number of detainees at GITMO were detained not on the battlefield but were turned in by competitors for their positions. The US should not detain anyone indefinitely anywhere whether in the US or otherwise.
While military tribunals may appear to some to be unjust, we currently try our own GI's in military court when they are accused of crimes such as rape and murder. Military court provides legal representation for the accused.
Rand Paul is opposed to the policy of scooping up people from around the globe and holding them in indefinite detention. Rand Paul believes that most of the detainees could have been tried, convicted, and or released long ago. Those whom the military has deemed untriable, like the Uighurs, should be deported to where they were captured not relocated in the South Pacific. Detainees who return to the battlefield and are captured should be imprisoned in the country in which they are captured.
So if you look at the wording of the press release on RandPaul2010, it seems to me there is ambiguity about this part: "Rand Paul today criticized the Obama administration’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try terrorism suspects in United States Civil Courts."
If Rand Paul disagrees with closing Gitmo and trying the terrorists in the US, but would agree with closing Gitmo and trying the terrorists by tribunal and administering the courts' final dispositions and sanctions / releasing those who have not been found guilty of anything- then I could support him.
What I'm getting from Hightower's clarifications above is:
1. Rand Paul unequivocally opposes indefinite detention.
2. Military tribunals are good enough for our troops, so they're good enough for theirs.
Regardless of what I think about item 2 above, it is at least a defensible, principled argument and would not preclude my support for Rand Paul.
As for item 1, Mr. Hightower does everything but say explicitly that "we should close down Gitmo." If item 1 is true, I think we deserve clarification from the Paul campaign soon that he opposes trying them here in US civil courts, but that he does think that the detainees at Gitmo need to stand trial or be released if we have no charges to bring against them.
Whether or not I agree (and I think it is a very nuanced, multifaceted issue, so I'm not entirely certain of my own position), I can certainly live with that.
W. E. Messamore blogs at The Humble Libertarian.