Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., thinks that the United States' detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world." Biden told ABC's "This Week" that "we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners. Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go." Biden wants Congress to appoint a commission to study Guantanamo, but the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee seems to have no clue what the practical consequences of his suggestion would be.
Since January 2002, when the United States began detaining at Guantanamo Bay enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts in the war on terror, critics have complained of human rights abuses. Last month, the secretary general of Amnesty International compared Guantanamo to the Soviet gulags, a charge that can only be described as obscene. From 1929 to 1953, 18 million people were imprisoned in the Soviet slave labor camps. The gulags' horrors have been documented by their most celebrated inmate, Nobel Prize-winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and most recently by Anne Applebaum in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Gulag: A History." Men, women, even children guilty of nothing were sent to camps in Siberia where they were worked often literally to death. Applebaum writes that "[p]risoners were also locked in punishment cells until they died of cold and starvation, left untreated in unheated hospitals, or simply shot at will for 'attempted escape.'"
The men imprisoned at Guantanamo are members of an international terrorist organization that has killed thousands of innocent civilians. Most were captured while fighting U.S. and coalition troops. They have provided valuable intelligence about al Qaeda, including its recruitment efforts in Europe, its training methods, especially its use of suicide bombers, and its exploitation of charity fronts to raise money for its efforts. More than 200 men have been released from Guantanamo, some of whom have rejoined terrorist networks and are trying to kill Americans again.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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