Friday, May 8, 2009

McCain and Graham on Guantanamo Detainees

Senators Graham and McCain laid out a set of guidelines for handling Guantanamo detainees. They start their article by noting the need to move forward instead of looking back, as there are pressing concerns to addressed.
The country must move on from debates about the past, because pressing questions about U.S. detention policy in the war on terror requires us to make difficult choices -- and to make them soon.

In January, the president announced via executive order that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay will close within a year. The announcement was easy -- but it left unanswered the hardest questions about detainee policy for the future.

How do we prosecute detainees suspected of committing war crimes now that military commissions have been suspended? How should we handle those detainees who cannot be tried, but who are too dangerous to release? Where will we house them? How should we deal with detainees who, if released, would return to the fight against us? How do we deal with the prisoners held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where some detainees captured outside Afghanistan are being held?

There are no easy answers. As senators who have struggled with these issues for years, we believe some basic principles can help us find a common path forward...

The full article is worth a read and consideration should be given to the fact that these two Senators are experts in this area. Senator Graham is a JAG, and both Senators championed the surge strategy that eventually lead to success in Iraq. Both were critical in drafting and passing the Military Commissions Act which set forth procedures for trying detainees. Senator McCain has also been a particularly vocal critic of torture and the use of waterboarding. These two senators have given consistent thoughtful and useful guidance on issues related to foreign policy and military conflict, and again set forth an important set of guidelines for the handling of Guantanamo detainees.

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