Max, the threat that detainees transferred to the U.S. would be released by federal courts and the risk that the severe restrictions on terrorists’ access to their comrades outside prison would be lifted are two of the principal reasons why Guantanamo was selected to hold terrorists.
As to the first issue, 1993 World Trade Center bombing prosecutor Andy McCarthy explains:
Tuesday’s decision brings closer the day that federal courts will begin releasing trained terrorists to live, and plot, among us. Most (though not all) judges have been reluctant to issue such orders because the terrorists have been outside the U.S. and their admission is barred by statute. Once they are physically here, that reluctance will vanish.
In fact, indefinite detention is incompatible with normal rules of the criminal-justice system, so it is not only possible but probable that court actions will be brought to spring these people. One lower court has already issued such an order, although it was overruled on appeal. The government is not always fortunate to draw a reasonable appellate panel of judges. That is why the Obama team issued a curious promise: if a federal court releases the detainees, they will try these terrorists or whisk them back out of the country. In defiance of a court order? Even if possible, it makes a mockery of the legal system the Obama team is ostensibly defending. And in any event, it reveals that the administration realizes that the risk of release goes up when they are transferred to U.S. soil.
Second, the Richard Reid case demonstrates how little fortitude the administration has when it comes to limiting mail, visitors, and other means of spreading propaganda or assisting with plots outside the U.S. The restrictions that the government imposed on Reid were lifted after a legal challenge and a 58-day hunger strike by Reid. We can anticipate similar challenges by those who, once in the U.S., will seek judicial relief in lifting allegedly “inhumane” restrictions on them.
As to the supposed benefits that are derived from shuttering Guantanamo, I simply don’t buy that the location of the detention facility matters to anyone. The ACLU and leftists have already made clear in public statements and pleadings that they object to the indefinite detention. The terrorists themselves need no excuse to butcher Americans, and certainly didn’t when they devised the 9/11 plot. Moreover, given that the conditions under which they will be held in Illinois are far less cushy than those at Guantanamo — no gourmet menus or exercise bikes, no sunny yard to stroll in — the grievances are likely to increase. The argument will be made, with some justification, that we will be making the lives of detainees worse and their conditions less humane. And on this one, I will have to agree.
As with so much that the Obama team dream up with regard to the war on terror — trying KSM in civilian court, limiting enhanced interrogation, releasing interrogation memos, and now moving detainees to U.S. soil — the supposed gains depend on accepting the notion that we will get “credit” for tying our own hands and creating security risks for our own citizens. The president, if he were so concerned about our image, could — as he did privately with 9/11 families — talk publicly about how safe and, yes, just is the Guantanamo facility. It is the president’s job to dispel false and malicious propaganda, not to buy into it. Rebutting the unfair and false attacks on Guantanamo, rather than ushering in a Brave New World of dangerous and unpredictable litigation by terrorists, would seem to be a better use of the president’s time and energy.