Five Former Secretaries of State: “Shut Down Gitmo”

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Five former secretaries of state, three Republicans and two Democrats,  announced their recommendation that the next presidential administration should close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

America’s collective response?  “No shit.”

Note that the recommendation is for the next administration.  No one has any illusions that the Bush administration will pay any attention to mere secretaries of state.  

Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell met at a conference sponsored by the University of Georgia on Thursday.  They discussed a variety of issues aimed at producing bipartisan foreign policy advice and boosting our image abroad.  

James Baker said of Guantanamo:

“It gives us a very, very bad name, not just internationally,” he said. “I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how we can hold someone, pick someone up, particularly someone who might be an American citizen _ even if they were caught somewhere abroad, acting against American interests _ and hold them without ever giving them an opportunity to appear before a magistrate.”

Colin Powell, who was secretary of state when the prison camp was first opened, had this to say about the recommendation to now close it:

“It says to the world: ‘We are now going back to our traditional respective forms of dealing with people who potentially committed crimes.”

The Guantanamo Bay prison camp was opened in 2002, initially for prisoners captured in the Afghanistan war.  It currently holds about 350 prisoners.  Allegations of torture and disputes over prisoners’ rights have been a constant problem since the camp opened.

Continuing to operate Guantanamo puts us in the position of being lectured to by our allies.  Angela Merkel of Germany said in an interview with Der Spiegel that “an institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term.  Different ways and means must be found for dealing with these prisoners.”

It’s possible that a decision in the Al Odah v. United States case by the Supreme Court will lead to the closure of Gitmo.  It challenges whether the government can continue holding the prisoners without charging them.  Even Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice reportedly argued to close Gitmo, but were blocked by Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  Is anyone surprised that Cheney wants to keep Guantanamo open?  

And right-wing attitudes continue to support Cheney’s sinister delight in having a facility like Guantanamo.  Remember when prominent(?) Republican Mitt Romney had this to say at one of the Republican debates?

“I don’t want them on our soil,” Romney said. “I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers that they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons. I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo.”

The embarrassment of Guantanamo has gone on far too long.  We are a nation of laws, and that should apply to Gitmo.  We are a nation of decency, and that should apply to Gitmo.  It’s good to see a public announcement by the former secretaries of state they they want to see Gitmo closed.  But will it have any effect?  Apparently even Kissinger, Baker, Christopher, Albright, and Powell don’t have much hope until the next president takes office.  



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  1. Let’s elect a president that will end this ridiculous embarrassment.

  2. we end torture and close gitmo. it is our country. it does not belong to politicians. but to us. this is happening in our name.

    tell Congress and all politicians to STOP TORTURE immediately.

    thanks fort!!!

    • Valtin on March 28, 2008 at 20:14

    are war criminals in and of themselves.

    If they say “close down Gitmo”, it’s only because it’s politically convenient, to save the “reputation” of the butcher U.S. state.

    Where were they five years ago?

    Now, if they said, stop the phony war on terror, well, maybe then that would be something.

    I’m glad it’s being said, don’t get me wrong, but from this crew? The draught is bitterly bittersweet, and I fear what else they have up their sleeves.

    Without a statement about secret renditions and CIA black site prisons, their position, after all, doesn’t amount to much. Unless you’re a Gitmo prisoner. And then it might bring some hope. A desperate kind of hope.

    This crew only brings bad things to the people of the world. Beware what they say, and shudder at what they do.

  3. for Jim Baker to be going all conscientious and caring over this when he was one of the prime architects of the Bush coup d’etat in the first place.

    And as for Henry the K, wanted war criminal, ptui!! Pah!

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