Dear Senator Inhofe:
In your recent statement in support of keeping Guantanamo Bay open, you accused “the far left” of using the prisoners’ hunger strike to “revive” our “continuing obsession with closing the base.” You also posed a few questions to the “far left” in which you suggested that we would be “letting the terrorists win” if we succeeded in closing Guantanamo down.
Specifically, you wrote:
“It appears to me this latest push to close GITMO is because the terrorists have begun a hunger strike. Specifically, the far left has used this as a rallying cry to revive their continuing obsession with closing the base despite strong support from congress to keep GITMO open. But this misses the fundamental point. Is this hunger strike not a political act designed to attempt to change American policy? My question to the far left is: if you close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay are you not letting the terrorists win?”
Well, Senator, as a citizen who embraces such “far left” ideas as Due Process, I have a few questions for you:
1. What proof do you have that the hunger strikers are “terrorists”? And if you have that proof, Senator, why have you not provided it – or insisted that it be provided – so that these men might be tried in a court of law?
You see, Senator, it is my understanding that 86 of the 166 men imprisoned at Guantanamo “have been cleared for release” and yet remain confined. Forty-six are “slated for indefinite detention without charge or trial.”* And yet you make the assertion that these men are “terrorists,” as if that is all that needs to be said for their confinement to pass constitutional muster.
The test, Senator, is not whether there is “strong support from congress to keep GITMO open.” After all, congress has been known to give “strong support” to a broad range of egregious and corrupt policies – the Patriot Act is a case in point.
The test is whether indefinite detention is both morally and constitutionally defensible.
Indefinite detention utterly fails that test.
2. You suggest that the “fundamental point” of the hunger strike is “to change American policy.” What “American policy” do you think that the strikers are specifically dying to change?
Since you did not identify what “American policy” you are referring to, I am left to glean the policy from the wording of your statement. Do you mean to say, Senator (without saying outright, of course), the “policy” of indefinite detention? And if so, in what ways is that policy “American”? By which Article of the U.S. Constitution is such a policy blessed?
I think it is telling, Senator, that not once in your entire statement do you make reference to the U.S. Constitution – which leads me to assume that you do not consider it relevant to your analysis. And if it’s not relevant, sir, then I have to say that I can’t support the “American policy” either.
Consequently, I will continue to “obsess” – that is, agitate, hunger strike, vote, and disobey laws when necessary – about closing Guantanamo down. Indeed, our "inability to arrange an order of priorities that promises solutions that are decent and just," to quote Dr. King, requires that I obsess until we embrace a decent and just solution for our imprisoned brothers.
3. You also suggest that “the left” will be “letting the terrorists win” if Guantanamo is closed.
Win what, Senator? Or perhaps more precisely, what do we lose? And what and how do we “win” by keeping Guantanamo open? What victory for Americans does Guantanamo represent? Again, Senator, you did not say – so I must conclude that, for you, indefinite detention and all the injustice that it represents is itself a triumph.
Which leads me to the next set of questions, Senator:
4. Are not your efforts to keep Guantanamo open and to deny GITMO prisoners due process connected to your vote in support of, for example, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage? Or your vote to prevent the inclusion in hate crimes legislation those hate crimes that are committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation? Or your vote to loosen restrictions on cell phone wiretapping? Or your vote against ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which sought to ban discrimination against people with disabilities?
In other words, Senator, my question to you is this: by continuing to embrace policies that undermine our democracy, whose win, and what kind of victory, are you helping and hoping to secure?
*Quote from “Gitmo by the Numbers” (Center for Constitutional Rights, https://ccrjustice.org/). GITMO picture also from this website.