War on Terror, Good. Gitmo, Bad.
Tom Friedman makes a case for shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and it's a good one. His basic belief is that he thinks the story of abuses going on is damaging our war on terror and I agree. I have no problem using force if necessary to stop terror. However, as a nation of laws, we have to do it within the law and more and more we are hearing stories of abuse that show that we are not living up to our own high standards.
Here's a money quote for those who think worrying about prisoner abuse is tantmount to not caring about the war on terror:
Why care? It's not because I am queasy about the war on terrorism. It is because I want to win the war on terrorism. And it is now obvious that the abuse at Guantanamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. How is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
During the confirmation hearings for Antiono Gonzalez to Attorney General, Senator Lindsey Graham wondered aloud that all the reports of abuse could make us into the very thing we hate. Gonzalez quickly replied, "We are nothing like the terrorists." You hear that argument over and over, usually with talk of the fact that we don't behead our captives. Well, I'm glad for that, but it doesn't excuse the fact that we are democracy and we hold ourselves to laws. Those laws are our standards; not the actions of the bad guys. If we torture or disrespect our prisoners, then we are only providing more Mohammed Attas who will come after us, maybe on our own soil.
I want to see terrorism abated and Al Queda put out of business. However, we must do that by the law and not by the standard of the terrorists who give the term lowest common denominator, a whole new meaning. We can't win this war if we decide to trash our own rules.