Closing time - Guantanamo prison serves harm, not good
Cox News Service
January 24, 2008
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen has a voice that demands attention on issues regarding the nation's military. And President Bush should heed his advice to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a way of restoring influence and moral authority to the American mission abroad.
The installation became a flash point quickly after the invasion of Afghanistan as the United States began shipping suspects deemed to be the most dangerous to the facility for imprisonment and interrogation. At its height, the inmate population exceeded 600.
That policy came with questions. Some opponents argued those held in Cuba were not as dangerous as American officials claimed. And, of tremendous concern, the methods of interrogation were alleged to be torture by some human rights groups and independent monitors.
While the prison population has dipped below 300, the facility remains a polarizing symbol, one that, for many, represents unjustified, excessive force in violation of international law. Less extreme, however, is the certain knowledge that the use of torture and indefinite terms of incarceration have no place in the American mission of expanding liberty and democracy.
That symbolism prompted Mullen's comments during a recent visit to the naval base, and it is a perspective the president should consider. The United States can protect its citizens and press the war against terrorist organizations with legal boundaries and without a facility emblematic of the country's flawed war policy.