It’s always amazed me how quickly Guantanamo, torture, indefinite detention, secret renditions to other countries, and the rest of the seamy side of the War on Terror disappeared from the national conversation. Maybe it’s because most of the public supported just about any measures that would keep us safe, or perhaps because it all became partisan issue, or maybe we just never learned the worst details. But, the silence may be changing, at least a little, due to two developments.
First, Senate Democrats are warring with the CIA over its refusal to let them release a comprehensive committee report on the excesses of the War on Terror, including at Guantanamo. Press reports say the report, which requires a CIA classification review to be released, is devastating. Torture was very widespread. It did not work. The CIA lied to everybody about all of it. Etc. I know from personal experience that not all committee reports should be treated as Gospel. Still, the report’s release would be a big deal. The second development occurred a few months ago, when Obama, in his state of the union address, declared that he would try again to close the Guantanamo camp and asked Congress to make the needed changes to law that have been blocking closure for years.
So, it’s a good week to revisit “the dark side” of the war on terror, as the title of a famous book called this stuff. I think the key for our discussion is to understand that Guantanamo etc., raise many issues beyond torture. Al Qaeda is not the last stateless, amorphous enemy we’re going to fight and the legal and moral issues over indefinite detention, military tribunals, and so forth that have never been resolved will haunt us in the future, I guarantee it
Monday night, I’ll begin by quickly reviewing the latest on Guantanamo and the torture/detention issue, and then outline the broader issues that the Bush policies raised. Per our new rules, I will try to keep my remarks short and we’ll be limiting discussants’ remarks to two minutes with short. the links below mainly are about the torture issue. If I have time to prepare, I’ll be able to speak to other issues, many of which are really important
Discussion Questions –
- Why was Guantanamo opened? What were the alternatives?
- What happened there, and what issues does it raise – Legal, moral, political? Were war crimes committed by U.S. personnel? What should we do about that?
- What is the status of Guantanamo now and what prevents its closure?
- What lessons do you think Americans think they’ve learned from this?
- What are the real lessons learned, in your opinion?
What happened at Guantanamo –
- Leaked findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture. More here.
- Another major study found torture was used and ordered at the highest levels of the USG.
- It wasn’t just Guantanamo: We used torture elsewhere.
Issues Raised –
Closing Guantanamo –
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