If we had irrefutable evidence against people plotting terrorism in and against the United States, we would not need to hide that evidence from those defendants. If we had reliable intelligence about who was and was not acting against the national interest, we would be able to tell those detained the reason for their detention. If we had the manpower and technological capabilities to investigate every alleged crime for which someone is detained, there would be no reason to hold them; if we could determine cause, we could charge them under a system that has served us well for more than two centuries.
First off, I’ve come to hate the word “detainees.” Detained is something that implies you’ll be released in the morning after you’ve sobered up. Detained implies stuck at the airport, or in line at the coffee shop. These are our prisoners. Let’s at least grant them the significance of calling them that.
Second, we put all this energy, spend all this time, defending our national torture program and winding our way in and out of all its legal complications. I’ve not yet heard anyone give a convincing explanation of why we couldn’t put just as much energy, why we couldn’t put the resources of our country, into actually prosecuting the cases of those we’ve imprisoned. Into sorting out their status, trying them, convicting them if guilty and releasing them if innocent under a legal system which has served us for more than two hundred years. Into, you know, preventing terrorism, which is supposed to be this bunch’s big kink, and instead starts looking like an excuse to lock a bunch of people up and see just how much shredding of the Constitution they can get away with before somebody stops them.