2008 presidential campaign rival Sen. John McCain and one of his closest supporters Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement today praising President Obama’s executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“We support President Obama’s decision to close the prison at Guantanamo, reaffirm America’s adherence to the Geneva Conventions, and begin a process that will, we hope, lead to the resolution of all cases of Guantanamo detainees,” said Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham. “The executive orders issued today constitute an important step in the right direction but leave several major issues unaddressed.”
The Republican senators discussed the thorny issues that lie ahead, “Present at Guantanamo are a number of detainees who have been cleared for release but have found no foreign country willing to accept them. Other detainees have been deemed too dangerous for release, but the sensitive nature of the evidence makes prosecution difficult. The military’s proper role in processing detainees held on the battlefield at Bagram, Afghanistan, and other military prisons around the world must be defended, but that is left unresolved. Also unresolved is the type of judicial process that would replace the military commissions. We believe the military commissions should have been allowed to continue their work. We look forward to working with the President and his administration on these issues, keeping in mind that the first priority of the U.S. government is to guarantee the security of the American people.”
While GITMO was a national and international black eye, the question is what does the administration do with the detainees now? I can’t see any state being happy with the idea of housing these detainees, but they have to be kept somewhere. I think that the military commission process needs to be reformed. It is possible to allow the detainees full legal rights through the military commission process.
The Bush administration set up a sham process, where hear say admissible evidence, the detainees originally had no right to legal representation, they could not see the evidence against them, and were not allowed to present evidence in their own defense. It is possible to keep the detainees out of the judicial system, but still allow them full legal rights under a parallel system.
Closing GITMO is a big first step in putting the mistakes of the Bush administration behind the nation and moving forward. McCain and Graham went through the 2008 presidential campaign, so they know firsthand the mood of the nation. McCain and Graham are likely more in tune with how the GOP has to change than other in their party. McCain and Graham have been calling for the closure of GITMO for a while, but they also see the political benefit of aligning with the new president, when they agree with him.