Friedman asserts that he's convinced that "more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down". I don't know what evidence he has for that, but if Tom Friedman not a member of the loony fringe is saying "Close Gitmo" then I figure a lot of Americans must be thinking the same thing.
Friedman's belief is that the news emerging from Guantanamo is having a
toxic effect on us - inflaming sentiments against the U.S. all over the world and providing recruitment energy on the Internet for those who would do us ill.I'm sure to a large extent he's right, but before we jump to any conclusions we should review how we ended up where we are.
On September 11, 2001 there was no prison camp at Guantanamo Bay nor any "U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism". It didn't exist and there was no clamor for any such system to exist. We felt quite safe.
However, that was an illusion.
After September 11, there was little concern in the US about the rights of captured al Qaeda members. The concern was that another large scale attack was planned and that we didn't know anything about it.
The idea behind 'Gitmo' was that captured al Qaeda operatives and their allies would be brought someplace that was unfamiliar in an effort to disorient them. The hope was that they would reveal things about what they were doing, where they were doing it and whom they were doing it with.
As Friedman notes, there has been a lot of bad press about Guantanamo, in the US and globally. Loads of abuse stories, some of which may well be true. However, what hasn't been part of the press coverage is whether the Guantanamo enterprise has been successful in providing solid leads and advice for thwarting al Qaeda attacks and/or discovering their bases.
It's quite possible that this information cannot be made public. I can live with that. I would like, however, to hear from some trusted legislators on the issue. Before I leap on Friedman's "Close Gitmo" bandwagon, I want to hear from Senators McCain and Lieberman (or Clinton for that matter) that Guantanamo Bay is not bearing any fruit and should be closed. Absent that, I say straighten out the problems and get on with the business of running the place properly.