July 18, 2007
Think Twice About Closing GitmoBy J.R. Dunn
What danger is there of Guantanamo being closed? Rumors to that effect have been circulating for weeks, most of them based on the premise that certain administration insiders are that far from persuading the President to shutter the place. Peter Worthington, nobody's fool, thinks that's exactly what's going to happen, and in short order too.
The closing of Gitmo is one of those debates (like many concerning the War on Terror) that occur without anybody ever bringing up consequences -- exactly what happens afterward. It's as if a discussion about driving a car off a two-hundred-foot cliff were in progress without anyone pointing out that passengers were going to end up dead when it landed. The assumption seems to be that closing the place down somehow ends the story. Of course, it does no such thing. Closing Camp Delta will simply open up a new chapter -- one perhaps even more involved than what we've seen so far.
The first question that comes up is - where do we put them all?
Guantanamo now holds some 380-odd prisoners (little more than half the original number, a fact that is seldom brought up). Many of them are crazy. Almost all of them hate Westerners with abject loathing. Many are trained to kill. Many have been in combat.
Some Amnesty types may be fantasizing that they'll all be let out on bail, but that's not likely. They're going to remain locked up. The question is, where?
It's possible that they'd simply be shifted to another camp. But that doesn't make much sense. Why close down one camp only to dump them in another? The fact that they're in a prison camp at all is a major element of legal and media complaints. I also think that if you're going to bring transfer this mob of cutthroats stateside, you'll want to break them up. Treat them as if they were made of plutonium - don't put them all in one spot.
The military prison at Leavenworth may well not be large enough for the whole contingent. Military brigs may not be secure enough - and besides, that's not what they're for. So it seems that it would have to be the federal prison system. Specifically, federal maximum security prisons. (The optimal solution might be to keep the really dangerous ones under military control and put the rest in federal pens.)
This immediately raises a number of problems. The first, and probably most intractable, is interaction. One of the beauties of Gitmo lies in its isolation. That's why the camp was built where it is. You have Jihadis, and you have MPs, and that's it. This keeps the human equation at its simplest and most easily soluble level.
That ends the minute you bring them to the U.S. You instantly involve third parties, and with third parties, you invite trouble. Of course, you may attempt to isolate them once again, place them in remote wings and buildings, well-separated from the rest of the facility. But that only works so far. There will be encounters, there will be collisions, and there will be deliberate attempts at contact.
Let's first consider the phenomenon of the hyper-patriotic criminal. Not widely acknowledged, perhaps, but they do exist. (Criminals tend to be really hard on their own as far as punishment goes, too. I once had a conversation with a notorious burglar whose solution to crime was simplicity itself: "Put ‘em in a metal room, six by six, in solitary. No TV, no radio, nothing. Bread and water the first six months. Then put ‘em to work. Twelve-hour days, six days a week..." etc. It happened that six months later, he'd have been enduring this regimen personally as a guest of the state of New Jersey, but you can't ask for consistency from these people.) During WW II, many American mafiosi ordered their men to join up to fight for the country, and got no complaints. The ones sent to Italy often wound up as interpreters, making valuable connections for postwar business, but we'll overlook that.
Such types may be rarer in this day and age, but not to a point where they can be ignored. Throw in the inmate's customary yearning for prestige and standing among his compatriots, and you can see what problems will arise. Jamal Jihad is taken to his medical appointment in the prison hospital. Joey Junkie spots him passing by, stalks him, and cuts him up. What do you think we'll see on the news the next day?
(What we'll see will look a lot like this. The Brits, of course, don't have a Gitmo.)
Then there's the matter of prison Muslims. Do we really want to take the chance of connections growing between these people and the Jihadis? It will happen. There's no way to prevent it, considering such things as e-mail, notes, even the prison telegraph (a method of communicating by way of a crude code banged on walls, posts, etc.). The implications of this should be obvious, and unwelcome.
But there's another possible complication as well. Most Muslims in U.S. prisons are black, and if you'd care to see what Muslim reactionaries think of blacks, try Googling the word "zanj". The Islam of the Black Muslims also features a number of doctrines the Jihadis would very likely find heterodox. There's a distinct possibility of triggering a sectarian war within the prison system. Consider what's now occurring in Iraq. Could we see the same in American prisons?
Finally we get to the Aryan groups. Quite a few whites join racist groups such as the Aryan Nations or Christian Identity while in prison, if only for self-protection. But there are plenty of flat-out fanatic racists as well, and the groups are widespread, well-organized, and extremely dangerous. Open war with the Jihadis, who after all are dark-skinned people from different cultures, can easily be imagined - but there's another possibility, too.
White supremacists and Jihadis have a lot of things in common. Anti-Semitism and hatred of the government, to name just two. (The racist term for the government is ZOG, or Zionist Occupation Government.) Some history exists here as well. Recall Terry Nichols, the co-conspirator with Timothy McVeigh in carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing, now serving 160-plus life sentences in the Florence, Colorado maximum security prison. Nichols made a number of trips to the Philippines, where researchers suggest that he met with several individuals associated with Hambali (AKA Riduan Isamuddin), head of the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah. An alliance between Jihadis and skinheads is not so farfetched. Such an alliance -- even an alliance of convenience -- is an ugly thing to contemplate. A vast supremacist network combined with Jihadi capabilities, giving Al-Queda access to the country as a whole that it does not now possess. The technical term for this is "nightmare".
This is only scratching the surface, but it's already clear that closing Guantanamo is one of those "solutions" that actually gains nothing for anyone involved - the American people, the government, even the Jihadi prisoners themselves. The only ones primed to benefit would be outside figures such as lawyers, activists, and the media. Does anyone want to argue that's worthwhile?
But it also suggests a method of curtailing the problem completely, assuring that the Jihadis remain far across the blue waters, between the Marines on one hand and Fidel Castro's minefields on the other, where they belong. Simply publicize that fact that, due to a shortage of space, the Jihadis will have to be scattered in prisons across the country -- that is, in the prison a hundred miles down the road, or the next town over, or on the other side of the highway. Then make a point of warning the public of potential escapes, raids by Jihadi allies, or terrorist acts against the prisons themselves. The NIMBY effect will take care of the rest.
And that, come to think of it, may well explain why the subject hasn't come up before.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.