Lots of folks are up in arms because a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released to Saudi Arabia is back on the streets leading the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda. This development is being used for opposition to President Obama’s executive order to close the prison within one year.
I’d like to remind my readers of a simple word. Recidivism. I don’t know the statistics but I would bet a healthy sum that most felons after they are released from prison go on to commit more crimes. Sadly, our penal system usually punishes but does not rehabilitate. So, the idea that a Gitmo detainee might return to his old ways if released is not rocket science.
I think the problem lies in this so called “war on terror”. I’m sorry gang but we are not at war with anyone. No country has declared war on us. No religious group has declared war on us. (No, Al Qaeda does not equal Islam.) Terrorists are nothing more than common criminals who hide behind ideology to wreak havoc on innocents. I have always maintained that they should be treated like criminals. Don’t go after them with our armies. Go after them with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
Once you’ve got them, prosecute them like the criminals they are. Once convicted, they should be incarcerated like any other common criminal. When the Fed goes after the Mob, we don’t throw mobsters in jail forever for fear that when they get released they’ll return to a life of crime. As a nation with rules, we have put in place guidelines for how long a person should be imprisoned for certain crimes. When that term is up, they get released. If they commit crimes again, they get arrested again and the whole process begins anew.
So why are we applying different standards to so called terrorists? Why are certain Governors saying “I don’t want them in my prisons”? I’ll tell you, if a Governor told me he didn’t want a particular criminal in his prison, I’d be worried about the felons he currently has in his prisons. He can’t handle them?
The bottom line is that the worst of the worst at Gitmo are not comic book villains with secret super powers. The worst of the worst are common thugs who need to be tried in a real courtroom and tossed in the nearest legitimate prison.
The time to close Guantanamo Bay has come. Let’s stop making excuses and get it done.