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Debate: Close Guantanamo… or Keep it Open?

May 24, 2009

In this New York Times article profiling Colin Powell’s appearance on “Face the Nation”, a number of high-profile politicians and administration officials answer this question. If the resumes of those supporting the closing are any indication, the debate is over:

In Favor of the Closing: Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State and Vietnam vet; Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Vietnam vet; Admiral Mike Mullen, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Robert M. Gates, Defense Secretary Under George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Opposed to the Closing: Rush Limbaugh, Radio Commentator; Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, Dick Cheney, former Vice-President and Karl Rove, Republican political strategist…none of whom served in the military.

It’s probably fair to say that there are military men and women of influence who are not mentioned in this article but who are in favor of keeping Guantanamo open. But if these competing line-ups are representative of the considered opinion of America’s defense experts, Guantanamo is an unnecessary liability, in terms of the war on terror, in terms of its violation of America’s foundational ideals and, not insignificantly, its deleterious effect on America’s international reputation.

It should also be pointed out that when you have Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney criticizing Colin Powell (who almost fatally detonated his own career by giving the now infamous United Nation’s speech in support of George Bush and Dick Cheney’s plan to invade Iraq), you have a Republican party energetically antagonizing its own moderate middle and courting the ever-more extreme pockets of its supporters. If this is a strategy for a return to political power on a national level, it must involve a meandering detour through a few more election cycles in the wilderness of political inconsequence.

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