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The Future of Guantanamo

June 18, 2005

Re "Close Gitmo? Be Careful What You Wish For," by Eric Umansky, Commentary, June 14: It is important not to overlook the knowledge that Guantanamo Bay and the whole system of covert CIA-operated bases and other detention centers were created out of the ashes of 9/11.

A major reason for the existence of Guantanamo in such an isolated place as the tip of Cuba is to keep it from being a target of terrorist attacks in an attempt to free the prisoners by like-minded sympathizers. Covert CIA bases are kept covert for the same reason.

If these very necessary prisons and bases were to be located stateside, they would become a dangerous circus and a target for more trouble when the American government has its hands full. Oddly enough, Guantanamo is probably the best-run prison in Cuba. Even today many terrorists are probably making plans for new, more damaging and ever-larger terrorist attacks against America.

We are only at the beginning of a decades-long struggle. Now is not the time to surrender to the supporters of the enemy by closing Guantanamo and freeing these dangerous people. Considering that just a handful of men brought about 9/11, how much trouble could a small percentage of the 520 held at Guantanamo get into if they somehow where able to make their way back into Osama bin Laden's terrorist network? Many Americans have been unable to accept the fact that we are in a war and in a fight for our very survival in an age when nuclear terrorism is a mathematical certainty. Just as Americans have had to adjust to Islamic terrorism reaching our shores, the enemy and their supporters will have to adjust to the unpleasant necessity of places like Guantanamo.

Ken C. Arnold

Santa Monica

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Umansky's "Close Gitmo" article expresses my sentiments exactly! I can't fathom how closing the prison at the base will accomplish anything but bigger bills for the taxpayers to move the detainees somewhere else and/or build another facility.

The Bush administration has an abominable record on "enemy combatants" by keeping them in overseas jails for torture instead of seriously changing policies everywhere so it doesn't occur in any location. Or is that solution too simplistic?

Anita C. Singer

Laguna Woods

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Re "Support for Guantanamo Eroding in Bush's Circle," June 13: Vice President Dick Cheney is quoted saying, "The important thing to understand is that the people that are in Guantanamo are bad people." I wonder how he knows this. Of the more than 500 men imprisoned at Guantanamo, only four have been charged with a war crime. I understand the Bush administration is exploring all alternatives. This may take quite a while. It will be difficult to find comparable prisons where these men can continue to be tortured.

Jean Holt Koch

Los Angeles

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So the party of American values is beginning to consider closing the internment camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Have the Republicans concluded that prisoner abuse and "aggressive" interrogation are counterproductive and yield intelligence of little value?

Have they decided that holding people incommunicado and without trial is an affront to the founding principles of our country?

No, their changing mood is because it is bad public relations that distracts attention from their agenda.

So nice to know what the values are that motivate the current Republican Party to action.

Lee Aydelotte

Huntington Beach

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Vice President Cheney has said, "The important thing to understand is that the people that are in Guantanamo are bad people."

This statement is not only utterly ridiculous but also against what we are as Americans.

Many of the people that are being held in Guantanamo have not been charged with a crime, nor have they even spoken with a lawyer about our denial of their liberty.

We are holding these people prisoner without due process.

How can we possibly pass judgment on them, as Cheney seems so readily willing to do, without due process?

Have we lost our faith in our own Constitution? 9/11 certainly did not change that!

Darren Hardy

Santa Barbara

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