President Donald J. Trump has said “We are fighting sneaky rats right now that are sick and demented,” “We’re going to win,” and it would be “fine” if US terror suspects were sent to the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial.
One of the President’s first actions then should be to shred the 2009 Military Commissions Act and then proceed using the military commissions’ guidelines from Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10 (a.k.a. The Law of Land Warfare), which is the U.S. adaptation of the Geneva Conventions. By that law, those accused of committing war crimes would receive the SAME rights as U.S. soldiers covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This would be fair, just and speedy.
Currently, the Military Commissions Act of 2009, hastily written by then President Barack Hussein Obama and Department of Justice head Eric Holder, and then passed by a Democrat majority Congress, gives detainees accused of war crimes virtually the SAME rights as you or I would enjoy in a Federal court of law. Outrageous!
According to FM 27-10 and Geneva, by NOT following the rules for lawful combatants, unlawful combatant detainees actually earn ZERO extra legal privileges. That’s why these detainees are not considered Prisoners of War, they didn’t EARN the status, which carries many privileges.
In 2009, Congress provided these Islamists-who-want-to-kill-us with the full blessing of the “lawfare” they were seeking. Captured al Qaeda training manuals we read at Gitmo back in 2002, identified strategies the “Brothers” should use if captured. “Lie about your treatment.” “Claim you were abused and tortured.” “Demand a lawyer.” The bad guys know that once allowed into the American justice system they could use lawfare to their advantage and either delay punishment, or get early release. Both have come to pass for virtually all detainees.
In WWII six of eight German saboteurs caught dry foot on U.S. soil were executed within eight weeks of their capture. They had hurt no one, nor had they destroyed any property. However, they were not wearing uniforms, did not carry their weapons openly, and had the means, motivation and intent to kill Americans and to destroy U.S. property. Two of the eight captured saboteurs flipped on the others and were spared the electric chair.
Remember, those six German saboteurs who were executed had not hurt a fly nor blown anything up. They were deemed spies and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. After being denied habeas corpus, they were tried by military commission unanimously approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Spies caught on the WWII battlefield could expect summary executions ordered by field grade officers and above. Every detainee brought to Gitmo could have been lawfully shot dead on the battlefield.
Instead, they were taken to Gitmo for interrogation to “obtain valuable information” that would “save many lives,” according to President George W. Bush, in his memoir, “Decision Points.”
What’s different now? Why did we release at least 730 known/suspected terrorists? Why are we allowing foot dragging in the court room? Why are we allowing religious garb, prayer time, Qurans, prayer rugs/beads, directions to Mecca on guard towers, use of U.S. military chaplains, halal and special holy holiday meals to known enemies?
The moniker “Club Gitmo” certainly applies. In the early days, when I was the ranking U.S. Army Medical Department officer with the Joint Detainee Operations Group, Joint Task Force 160, tasked with overall monitoring of bad guy and good guy care, I was appalled at the difference between how we treated the detainees medically and how we treated our own soldiers. The detainees had immediate and full medical attention and care. Daily visits from an Army medical Non-Commissioned Officer, who collected medical intelligence that I would scrub and then utilize for reports to the Army incarceration command and Navy medical command, provided insight into how the enemy was trying to take advantage of the system.
In the end, each detainee received the highest quality medical care available in the U.S. military. If a specialist or special equipment were needed, they would be flow in from the States. If U.S. personnel required specialized treatment, they were sent home, a medical re-tread.
Sick-call for detainees was 24/7/365. All they had to do was cry and complain about this thing or that and then ZIP! Into the internal medical facility. Signs and symptoms of an illness or disease and BINGO! Off to the JTF detention medical facility. All air conditioned, and doting-over by Navy medical personnel who did not leave their bedside manner at the door.
If U.S. military personnel needed medical attention they could NOT be taken to the Naval Station GTMO medical facility (Navy Hospital), which was reserved for permanent party military and civilian residents. JTF personnel had to first see their organic unit medical personnel (medics), then wait to see someone with more medical expertise if necessary and available. Most U.S. personnel could not find adequate transportation to take them to an authorized medical facility, as most Army units guarding the detainees had to leave their organic vehicles behind in the continental U.S. Many walked or had to take the base shuttle bus, sometimes waiting hours between buses.
This doting behavior towards detainees must stop. Detainees should never receive better care than our own troops. The goal was of course to keep them alive, but the pandering and doting was difficult to witness.
Now, the detainees are allowed to wear white robes and long beards. In the beginning, for hygiene reasons, all detainees were clean shaven and had shaved heads. I think we need to go back to orange jumpsuits and no beards or head hair. It’s cooler in the hot climate of the Caribbean and more fitting for unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us.
President Trump, who said he would fill Gitmo up “with some bad dudes,” could turn all of this around. He now has the chance to get it right. Let’s hope and pray that he does.