Andy McCarthy, the lead prosecutor in the conviction of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (“the Blind Sheik”) and his associates in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case pens a remarkable letter to Attorney General Eric Holder declining to participate in the dog-and-pony round-table meeting with the President’s Task Force on Detention Policy of current and former prosecutors. McCarthy points out that this is a charade which will in all likelihood be used to justify the administration’s preordained conclusions about release of Guantanamo detainees.
His central point, one which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently taken up, is that the Obama administration, for purely political reasons, announced its intention to close Guantanamo with no plan as to what to do with the detainees who can’t be returned to their home country or tried in Article III courts or military tribunals. Moreover, the president made his call before Holder visited and confirmed that detainees were well-treated in a professionally-managed facility.
McCarthy is in the camp of those who contend, “Foreign terrorists trained to execute mass-murder attacks cannot simply be released while the war ensues and Americans are still being targeted.” For good measure, he warns those who might give advice to this administration that they are at risk:
[I]t is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers—like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy—may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct.
Quite a letter! But there is a group that, unlike McCarthy, does have some weight to throw around. What say you, Congress? Will they rubber stamp and fund this policy? They already seem nervous about enabling the Obama team’s approach to Guantanamo and may defund relocation efforts. Oversight hearings for the Justice Department are needed. We can start with some questions for the attorney general about those soon-to-be released detainees (Where are they going to live? What amount of the taxpayer stipend they will receive? Why is this not a violation of federal law?).
But the bigger question for the Obama administration is: why are they doing this if Guantanamo is a safe, secure, and well-run facility that entirely meets domestic and international standards?