Jonah Goldberg

Gitmo, likewise, is routinely lumped in with the more legitimate outrage over mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib and the more complicated controversies over renditions and CIA black sites. In reality, argues Andrew McCarthy in the National Review, Gitmo "is probably the most scrutinized prison in modern history." McCarthy, who as assistant U.S. attorney prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombers, is the author of an invaluable new book, "Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad." His assessment of Guantanamo continues: "It is also among the most humane, complete with halal meals, a bursting library, lush recreation facilities, communal prayer breaks and even white-gloved U.S. soldiers - Muslims only, please - delivering to each detainee a Koran (U.S. government-issued, even though the inmates believe it commands them to kill Americans)."

Nonetheless, Gitmo will soon be closed because President Bush and his likely successors all want it closed. OK, fine. But here's the thing: If you want to fight a war on terrorism, or any war, you need to put captured combatants someplace - someplace other than a conventional U.S. prison, where they're treated like any other criminals.

McCarthy prosecuted jihadi terrorists as criminals in the 1990s, but he rightly scorns the idea that we can treat terrorists like bank robbers. That Clinton-era strategy "can be considered a success only if one's chief preoccupation is due process. Viewed through the prism of national security, the effort was an abysmal failure." According to McCarthy, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to 9/11, only 29 mostly low-level operatives were caught and tried in the U.S., costing taxpayers millions and doing little to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

The halls of Congress echo with righteous denunciations of Gitmo's alleged horrors, but silence reigns supreme when it comes time to offer serious alternatives. Likewise, Yucca Mountain is ridiculed as a white elephant by the same politicians who want to pour billions into ethanol and solar power.

The Yuccafication of Gitmo, or the Gitmoizing of Yucca Mountain, are two versions of the same story. Political elites passionately declare their commitment to a desired end - victory in this war or that - but are feckless about providing means to those ends.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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