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September 11, 2011 05:42 PM UTC

9-11 a good time to remember Powell's suggestion of U.S. trials for Gitmo detainees

  • by: Jason Salzman

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here’s a memory of 9-11 that, it’s pretty safe to say, you won’t be seeing in the media today.

Take a look at this YouTube of Colin Powell on Meet the Press back in 2007.

He said he would close Gitmo “this afternoon” if he could. What’s often forgotten is that he didn’t stop there.

He went through and outlined the steps for transferring the detainees to U.S. civilian facilities, something Obama later tried to do but was blocked by Congress.

To my knowledge, nobody has asked Powell about that specific part of his recommendation or why he never spoke up when politicians started demagoguing the issue. He might have helped close the prison, but true to form, he shied away from a public fight. He’s being included in a bunch of 9-11 stories about Iraq, but they’re not going near Gitmo.

Bill Ritter, as much as people like to forget him, accepted that Colorado maximum security prisons could handle the detainees, and he was pilloried for it. If Bloomberg had that same courage, we’d be holding civilian trials in NYC, Gitmo would probably be closed, and America would be proud and respected for doing the right thing.


6 thoughts on “9-11 a good time to remember Powell’s suggestion of U.S. trials for Gitmo detainees

  1. Gitmo conundrum in any venue, in any US state or military base, since the well was so thoroughly poisoned from day one. No legitimate US court, civilian or military , can use evidence obtained via torture.  Of those left in Gitmo, we can be pretty sure that some are too dangerous to release but there is also no longer any legitimate way forward through any legal proceeding against them that would have legitimacy.

    For those who contend the techniques used were not torture, any smart lawyer could respond to the assertion that water boarding is not torture and therefore not illegal by pointing out the precedents for successful prosecution of the crime of water boarding torture in US civilian and military courts going back over 100 years and as recently as the 70s, not to mention other techniques, some of which resulted in death.

    Besides, evidence obtained by many forms of coercion short of torture isn’t allowed in our courts either. For instance, if the accused confessed only after being told his family would be killed if he didn’t, the confession could not be used. That’s one of the things that distinguishes us from the brutal totalitarian regimes where the state has the power to get “confessions” or accusations and “evidence” against others by simply torturing people into giving them the stories, often entirely fictional, that they need.

    The legacy of the Bush/Cheney administration is that we are stuck in a situation holding dangerous terrorists who can neither be tried in any proceeding that would be recognized as legitimate nor released.  It really doesn’t seem like something that can be fixed at this point.    

    1. I think we are faced with the prospect of releasing those too dangerous for release and following them until they they do something warlike and destroying them.

      I also agree that it is likely that anyone held there would win at trial or on appeal simply on the speedy trial issue. But, surely we can quit admitting new folks to Gitmo and other black sites.

  2. Ritter and the Democrats would have spread terrorists around American prisons. What a disaster so narrowly averted.

    Terrorists use our fairness against us. Fairness doesn’t obligate us to fight with one hand tied behind our back. That’s why the prison at Gitmo was built.

    1. none have escaped. It’s a disaster to have terrorists in prison?

      “Terrorists use our fairness against us? What does that mean? Gitmo was built because we’re a fair people?

      You make no sense.

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