Larry Haines: Free Shaker Aamer

Advertisement

Last month marked the tenth anniversary of British resident Shaker Aamer’s detention at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. This Wednesday, the Colorado Mountain College Amnesty International Club is hosting “GITMO Game Show” at noon in the campus cafeteria to help inform students about Guantanamo and Aamer’s case. Aamer has been held without charge or trial, and the U.S. has acknowledged that we have no evidence against him. He was cleared for release in 2007 under the Bush administration and again by the Obama administration in 2009. Sadly, his wife and four children, all British citizens, anxiously awaited his return only to learn he was not on board the jet carrying a fellow Guantanamo detainee back to Britain.

Aamer has acted selflessly in his time at Guantanamo, engaging in hunger strikes that have been successful in improving the prison conditions of his fellow detainees. He is being held in solitary confinement and is reported to be in very poor health. The reluctance to release Aamer is likely a result of his treatment at the hands of CIA and British MI5 interrogators prior to his transfer to Guantanamo, as well as what he has endured and witnessed in his ten years there. His resolve and nonviolent resistance in the grimmest of conditions have inspired many around the world.

Stories such as Aamer’s have become a primary recruiting tool for our enemies, including al-Qaida and others who wish to portray our country as inherently evil. Our congressmen rely on Guantanamo as political fodder, claiming it would threaten our security to transfer these detainees to prisons on U.S. soil and try them in our federal courts. This argument only serves to project weakness, that we are afraid to keep them here and that we do not believe in our own justice system. The reality is that hundreds of terrorists have been successfully tried and convicted in U.S. federal courts. The annual cost per detainee for the 171 held at Guantanamo is about $700,000 per year. Many of our most prominent military and intelligence leaders have called for the closure of the Guantanamo prison including CIA Director and retired Army General David Petraeus (former Commander of U.S. Central Command), retired Army General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of Defense (under Obama and Bush) Robert Gates, former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor Morris Davis and at least 20 other retired generals and admirals.

President Barack Obama has ended the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” but has fallen short on the promise he made his first month in office to close Guantanamo. In fact, in December, our Congress overwhelmingly passed and our president signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which could keep Guantanamo open permanently. Under this act, U.S. citizens also could be held indefinitely without charge or trial and even transferred to the Guantanamo prison camp.

I personally believe the U.S. is still the greatest country on Earth. To retain this status will require not only military strength, but also that we conduct ourselves according to the values and principles that made our country what it is. Habeas corpus precludes detention without charge and is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Nothing about holding a prisoner for ten years without evidence, charge or trial reflects American values. It dishonors our country and the brave servicemen and servicewomen who risk their lives to protect our way of life. Free Shaker Aamer and allow him to spend his remaining years with his family.

Larry Haines

Steamboat Springs Amnesty International local group No. 1104

Comments

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

I suggest you contact the families of victims of 9/11 including all the emergency service workers who were killed that day and continue to die from effects of that day and take up a collection to get this British? citizen out of GITMO. Maybe the British learned something when the Scotch authorities released the Lockerbie bomber to go home to Libya as a hero and live several more years. The Muslim terrorists need no "stories" to recruit fanatics. It is their sacred duty to wage Jihad against all non-Muslims.

0

rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Our country IS "inherently evil." Our own administration, in concert with the Federal Reserve, blew up our own WTC, including the semi-thorough coverup to blame it on the Muslims, merely to start yet another war, fatten their own banks accounts further, (they lend us money to buy bombs, bullets, and boots) and provide work for their subcontractor subsidiaries. Bush and Cheney both had interests (Fed Reserve bank holdings, Halliburton) making money off these wars. The WTC wasn't even the start, nor JFK -- the Fed continues to kill our own citizens, every day, to get their way and dollar. I'm sorry, but I can't buy into the company line any longer. I've seen too much contradictory evidence. I love my country, but I fear our government. They don't mind alienating the whole world, in their quest. We're a nation of sheep, being led to the slaughter. Singing "Yankee Doodle" all the way. Go ahead, laugh, while you still can.

0

Melanie Turek 2 years, 8 months ago

Jerry, are you suggesting that all due process should go out the window anytime anyone is accused of "terrorism"? If the US government has a case against a suspect, including this one, they should take it to court. If not, they must release him or her. This is one of the most basic principles of our justice system, without which there really can be no justice at all. For what it's worth, there are lots of people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks who share this view (http://www.aclu.org/national-security/911-victims-families-challenge-legitimacy-guantanamo-military-commissions), although losing a loved one in any tragedy does not automatically confer sound judgement or some kind of right-to-decide when it comes to the perpetrators, or the law in general. GITMO is an absolute disgrace, it breaks every due-process law we have in place, and its existence should embarrass anyone who considers himself an American, with all the "freedom" and "values" that status implies.

0

rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Want some good news? Peyton Manning is coming to Denver!!

0

Brian Kotowski 2 years, 8 months ago

Interesting how Larry highlights Aamer's status as a British resident, but doesn't mention that he's a citizen of Saudi Arabia, or that Aamer's family was on Bin Laden's payroll.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Melanie If the individual is not a U.S. citizen why does he deserve the protection of the U.S Constitution? People bury their heads in the sand all in the name of Political Correctness. Wait for yesterdays murders in France and the murders of French paratroopers in France to play out. I strongly suspect they were the victims of Muslim terrorists. The U.S. needs to get off middle east oil, get out of the middle east and let the Sunnis and Shihites concentrate on killing each other rather than attacking the West.

0

rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Thinking bro' had his finger on the pulse on the street in Iraq, I asked who was really right, but he dodged the question by saying "You hear so many things, I quit trying to make value judgments." [spell-checker is wrong, there is only one 'e' in judgment.] He did say the Shiites were the most West-friendly, while the Sunni's are far more numerous and ruthless. And there are several other, smaller Muslim tribes. The ouster of Saddam left a giant vacuum, which we were never able to fill with a working participatory government. Our departure will lead to a big civil war, the winner of which is not likely to be too cooperative thereafter. We cleaned up one mess, and made another one.

0

Marie Matta 2 years, 8 months ago

Larry, thank you for your excellent letter drawing attention to the important issues of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. I can't understand why it is still operating and what is so difficult about closing it. How can a country that claims it is a "beacon" of freedom and good for the world allow the continued and indefinite detention of prisoners without charge or trial, some of whom were captured in highly questionable circumstances? How is it noble for a people to think only their own citizens deserve a process of justice? GITMO is a microcosm of this country's foreign policy failures, hypocrisy and ignorance about the rest of the world.

0

mark hartless 2 years, 8 months ago

A few years ago I asked a friend a serious question: Why are we in Afghanistan? Without hesitation, and as if he had rehearsed all morning to proudly answer that exact question he said: "Because apparently nobody in our government owns a history book or a topo map." The time has long passed to leave that armpit of the world in its own misery. Bin Laden is dead. Let's go home.

Rhys sort of has the right idea about war being something America's leadership is addicted to. Not since the Roman Empire has a nation sought to be so imperially dominant. We are perpetually at war but laughably, even as the worlds superpower we haven't won one since 1945.

However, he is wrong that it helps our economy, way wrong. The billions of dollars wasted on the sands of iraq, afghanistan and soon iran could make meaningful difference domestically.

That great economist of the Austrian school, Ludwig von Mises said "[war] is harmful not only to the conquered but to the conqueror. Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking. Peace and not war is the father of all things. Only economic action has created the wealth around us; labor, not the profession of arms, brings happiness. Peace builds, war destroys."

The reason for Gitmo is terrorisim. Even a child can understand this. What children, and apparently all too many adults do not understand is that behind terrorism is political grievance. This is not speculation but the words of terrorists themselves, from Timothy McVeigh to Osama bin Laden to suicide bombers. America has its nose in too much of the worlds business and it pisses people off. No more complicated than that.

Having said this, my solution for how America could have got by without Gitmo is quite a bit simpler and less expensive: 1. Seek to avoid war wherever possible. 2. When war becomes absolutely necessary destroy enemies swiftly and decisively and make them never forget the taste. 3. Take no prisoners. No prisoners, no Gitmo! 4. Leave the few alive with the absolute knowledge that, for America to be called into their miserable craphole of a country again will hold only two possibilities for them: a) Their nation will be the fifty-first state of the USA or b) Their nation will glow in the dark for one thousand years. Piddling around with the hornets is getting us nowhere. Hornets will only ever like you when you finally just leave 'em the hell alone.

0

rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Mark -- Don't put words in my mouth. I did not say wars "help" our economy. "Help" is a value term, implying improvement, and including all factors. I hardly think the Federal Reserve creating a cycle where wars are necessary for our economic well-being helps anything. But the fact remains that our economy is heavily dependent on war -- the "military-industrial complex" Eisenhower warned us of, has come to exist.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Mark I agree with everything you said except one item. I think that the First Gulf War was justified because Iraq would have taken Saudi Arabia next and disrupted the worlds oil supply. We did win that little war because we did not try to occupy the country. That is why I keep calling for all sources of domestic energy so we can get off mid-east oil. Go ahead and release that bunch in GITMO. Bring them to the U.S. and they will be shooting our children and grandchildren in their schoolyard like that upstanding Muslim in France that they took down today.

0

mark hartless 2 years, 8 months ago

JLC, Perhaps I could agree about the first gulf war. Saudi and Kuwait should have picked up the tab more though. And a real "win" I would define as not having to return to the same country being ran by the same scumbag 10 years later.

On releasing the gitmo boys I would like to see them released in central Wyoming on a date and time made known in advance to every cowboy within 5oo miles.

Rhys, OK. The military complex Eisenhower warned about... I see it more every day. Didn't mean to misrepresent you.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Mark I buy that. Saudi and Kuwait should have picked up All the bill, but then they would have had less money to buy our politicians with the oil companies as middlemen. I would accept a draw in First Gulf War. Korea-Draw Vietnam-Big Loss Iraq-Loss because nothing was accomplished except killing Sadam Afghanistan-Loss because nothing was accomplished but killing Osama Wyoming is a great idea but we are too kind and gentle for that.

0

mark hartless 2 years, 8 months ago

It would, no doubt, come as a shock to some folks but kindness and gentleness can be taken too far. Even to the point of harm.

"Kindness to the wicked is cruelty to the righteous."

0

Melanie Turek 2 years, 8 months ago

Mark, no one is suggesting we be "kind" to the wicked. But it is a founding principle of our justice system that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and yet the inmates at Gitmo have not even been charged, let alone convicted of any crime. Jerry, it is not "politically correct" to want to extend due process to people who are not US citizens. It is basic justice, and it is the way it's always been under modern law. If a person from Britain (or, yes, Saudi Arabia) stands accused of committing a crime on US soil, he is afforded all the rights given to US citizens under the law, although he may also be deported. If you believe the so-called war on terror classifies accused terrorists as prisoners of war, then the Geneva Convention applies. Either way, Gitmo fails.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Melanie Tell it to the mothers and fathers of the Jewish children shot down in their schoolyard in France. Tell it to the wives and children of the women who were shot down in France. Tell it to the hundreds of Israeli citizens killed by suicide bombers all over Israel. The radical muslin terrorists take no prisoners. We should not be taking any either.

0

Marie Matta 2 years, 8 months ago

Jerry, if you want to use that line of argument, what would you say to the relatives of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who have died as "collateral damage" at the hands of the US military? And what would you say to the families of innocent Palestinians who have died as a result of Israeli military action, or as a result of Israel's apartheid-style policies - and don't tell me there are no innocent Palestinians! Do they not matter too? Are they sub-human? Do we really want to be caught in an endless cycle of hatred, vengeance and violence? And are you saying that the US can still claim moral superiority over its enemies even when it defies international law and its own principles of so-called justice?

0

mark hartless 2 years, 8 months ago

Melaine, You do not know ANYONE who feels more strongly about due process than I. The question is whether it applies to non-citizen combatants. Most legal minds say it does not.

You are right about the cycle of hatred. Get out and stay out is the answer there. We could do that if we had the collective brains to produce our own energy and tell the arabs where to stick it...

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Marie and Melanie Radical Islam has stated its only purpose in life is to destroy and kill every non Muslim, especially Israel and the Jewish people. As far as I know our government, incompetent as it it is, has made no statement that it wants to eradicate every Muslim in the world. Does that give us the moral high ground in your eyes? We are defending ourselves as is Israel by any means necessary. Lets go back in history a bit and get away from the current problems. How do you feel about the Nuclear attack on Japan? I bet you can guess how I feel and I bet I can guess how you feel. You two would have been big supporters of Chamberlain and I would have been a big supporter of Churchill had we lived in England at that time.

I am not a war monger. If you have read above, my belief is that the only justified war since WWII was the First Gulf War. Mark and I have repeatedly said get off Middle East oil and get out. But, when our country is attacked as on 9/11 and on "The Day That Will Live In Infamy" we should bring down the fire of hell on the people that did it. Collateral damage is a shame on both sides. It happens. What you do not seem to understand is there is no collatteral damage to radical Islam. Every non-muslim is an enemy and is to be killed.

0

Melanie Turek 2 years, 8 months ago

Jerry, the problem is, you are conflating ALL Muslims with RADICAL Muslims. I agree that radical religious people of any type, be they Jews, Christians or Muslims, are dangerous (literally and figuratively). When they commit atrocities, they should be captured, tried and appropriately punished. Also, when Muslims go bananas over a perceived slight to Mohammad, or the Koran, it makes me nuts (and also supports my atheism, if you ask me). I opposed the wars started by W., but I agree that once you are in a war, collateral damage is part of the deal. However, the issue here is not war (pro or con, or how best to fight it). Nor is the issue punishment (jail time, death, stoning, whatever). The issue is saying that because a small number of men committed a very large and very infamous atrocity, all people of the same religion as those men are free game -- that we should simply round them all up on the slightest suspicion, jail them indefinitely without charges, torture them for information or just for kicks, and so on. In fact, it's that emotional reaction and the desire for revenge that requires us to have the rule of LAW. Left to our own devices, we might all take a hatchet to someone we think has done or will do us or our loved ones harm. And the law here is, in fact, pretty damn clear; the Patriot Act has merely perverted it. Not to mention the ethics of the situation. You mention the atom bombs dropped on Japan. War historians will argue pro and con on that one until the cows come home--it ended the war and saved many more lives than it took; it was an ethical breach beyond the pale; etc. But no one alive today will go on record saying the Japanese internment camps we had in the US were justified. Gitmo is those camps on a very nasty steroid.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

Melanie Have you ever read the Koran or any part of it? I have just the book for you so you do not have to read the whole thing if you really would like to be informed. "Jesus and Muhammad" Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities. Mark A. Gabriel, PhD Former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. If the library does not have a copy, you can have mine. If you revisit my posts you will see I used the word RADICAL ISLAM repetitively. I have lived 67 years and have never been arrested. Maybe it has been good luck or maybe I have stayed out of situations where I might be arrested. These 150 men put themselves into situations where the were suspected of terrorism for whatever reason or circumstance. Are there some innocent ones? Probably. I would rather see 5 innocent ones held than 145 terrorists released to wreak their terror worldwide.

0

jerry carlton 2 years, 8 months ago

If Barack Obama had closed GITMO as he promised while campaigning, we would not be having this discussion. How do you tell if any politician of any party is lying? Their lips are moving?

0

rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Money is the root of all evil, and the Federal Reserve is the root of all money.

0

Melanie Turek 2 years, 8 months ago

Jerry, the last I'll say on this is that at least we agree on something! That Obama has not closed GITMO as promised is one of his failings in office.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.