Robert: ... divulging certain information to Congress, let
alone to the public, would 'compromise national security' is
an assertion on the part of an Administration that I have no
reason to trust on any matter.
Whereas we can't totally trust the government, we can be sure that terrorists will engage in all kinds of lies and grandstanding to advance their cause.
John Wager, Judy, and you have raised many valid points. Yet the situation is unprecedented. These are not mere murder or espionage cases, nor do they implicate a dismantling of the entire criminal justice system.
Consider this argument from Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu, a former Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel. Comparing the Moussaoui case to the McVey case, and noting the "rush to execution" of McVey, he writes:
One indisputable fact emerges from the hasty execution of McVey: we lost forever the opportunity to interrogate him properly. Did Iraqi, Philippine al Qaeda, or other global terrorist connections play a part in the Murrah Building bombing? Underappreciated, superb investigative journalist Jayna Davis is convinced that she discovered these ties and more. Unfortunately we shall never know, at least from McVey. Does it make sense for long term U.S. security to let vengeance take precedent over good intelligence information collection?
Just as it would have made excellent sense to interrogate McVey thoroughly, professionally, not by criminal investigators but by skilled military interrogators, it would make equal sense to do likewise with the current crop of terrorists held in the criminal justice system. How much help could we get in pursuing the war for the free world to be able to extract key information that Moussaoui and the two dozen or more terrorists hold close? We can’t do that post-mortem. Nor are there provisions for proper military interrogation in the Federal prison system.
The Federal prison system has a straightforward mission: incarcerate. There are no interrogation requirements needed, it being assumed that all the questioning necessary for the prison sentence was accomplished at or prior to trial. Conversely, the provisions for both incarceration and interrogation exist and are fully functioning at Guantanamo Bay. The unique detention/interrogation capabilities of Joint Task Force – Guantanamo provide the environment for secure detention of terrorists while being able to conduct long term, through interrogation under humane conditions.
Despite contrary fever-swamp rhetoric, detainees at the Guantanamo facility are treated exceedingly well. Interrogations are conducted with a goal of establishing rapport and mutual respect between the detainee and questioner. There is no torture, no abuse, no humiliation, and no coercion. Detainees are interrogated on a regular basis and talk or not as they wish. Are they rewarded for cooperation? Of course. And the system is positive: cooperate with interrogators and be compliant with regulations and you have more recreation time, live in a communal environment in a minimum security block. Stubborn? Then enjoy your time in your private cell with restricted outside opportunities.
There are a lot of cases in Gitmo where some detainees who have remained silent for years will suddenly speak. Others are recklessly proud of what they have done and brag openly about killing Americans and fellow Muslim “apostates” who do not accede to the harsh Wahabbist ideology they espouse. They talk freely and encourage fellow detainees to do the same. Which category would Moussaoui and these other terrorists fall into? We will never know as long as they remain in Federal prison in America.
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