I'm not quite sure what to make of today's news, so I thought I'd put up an open thread.
There are actually two big stories: the proposed bill, which is incredibly important but not surprising, and the announcement that Hambali, KSM, Ramzi bin al Shibh et al are being transferred to Guantanamo, which is surprising but maybe less important.
As far as I can tell, this doesn't mean the end of rendition. It
doesn't mean the end of waterboarding. It doesn't mean a permanent end
to CIA black sites. I'm not sure it means the end of "host country
facilities" like the Salt Pit, where the interrogators are foreign
although the CIA effectively controls the facility. It doesn't mean the
end of disappearance; there are still people unaccounted for--it is
possible that they are at least accessible to the Red Cross, but I
I think it may just be that they were finished interrogating this group of people, and they thought the political benefits to bringing them to Guantanamo outweighed the drawbacks. Yes, they may allege that they were tortured, that they were waterboarded, but come on--we basically knew that already. And now the administration can have the debate about military commissions, about amending the war crimes act, about jurisdiction stripping and ask: you want to give rights to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad? How did he treat Daniel Pearl? You want to risk freeing Ramzi bin al Shibh? You want Hambali to be able to sue us in federal court?
Well, Guantanamo now apparently does, at last, contain mass murderers; the worst of the worst; villains more impressive than Osama Bin Laden's driver. But it also still contains many, many people who are none of those things.