In response to my note that “The Guantanamo Detainee” be named TIME‘s person of the year because of the legal and political convulsions and hemorrhaging that will be caused for years ahead by institutionalized extralegalism there, Michael Scheuer sent me a thoughtful note of his own on the subject that needs to be read.
Scheuer, as most know, was head of the CIA’s now terminated “bin Laden unit” and authored Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Through our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America, and the forthcoming Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq.
From Michael Scheuer to Steven Clemons, 15 December 2007
With respect, I would have to say that a Congress and Executive that refuse to execute the laws (borders and immigration); a Congress that has abdicated its exclusive constitutional authority to declare war and so allows wars to be initiated on one man’s whim; and the negligence of Congress and the Bush and Clinton administrations to secure all the weapons in the Former Soviet Union’s Nuclear arsenal — one of which used in the United States would damage our civil-liberties environment for decades — are far better candidates than the Guantanamo detainee group for “Person of the Year.”
The failure to set these issues right will have far more impact on America’s future than the detainees. The less said about Gore and Rowling the better.
The real problem with Guantanamo is that the prisoners there should have been treated as prsioners of war from the first.
Put them in World War-II-syle stockades, let them write home, and facilitate access for the Red Cross.
The most troubling issue regarding Guantanamo, CIA installations, DoD prisons, or the idea I just presented is that the men held in each for the most part can never be let go.
For me, this is the crux of the issue and it has not been addressed. For the first time in Western history we are capturing POWs who cannot be released; we already have had dozens go back to battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan after being released.
This problem is going to take folks with far better brains then mine to remedy, and so far the issue has not even be joined.
— Mike Scheuer
Michael Scheuer hits the nail on the head. We’ve created a legal purgatory from which there is no easy exit. The first thing that is crucial is not to add to the scale of this problem and add any new detainees to Guantanamo.
But this kind of blunt, sensible clarity from a key player engaged in hunting and killing bin Laden’s team is what many should be considering.
— Steve Clemons