The Save Gitmo Movement

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


In the National Review, Deroy Murdock doesn’t want the Guantanamo prisoners transferred abroad. These “al-Qaeda assassin[s],” after all, could escape from prison in Yemen. No word, of course, on whether the prisoners in Guantanamo are actually as dangerous as he says they are. As far as we know, the truly nefarious prisoners in U.S. custody—including operations planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and recruiter Abu Zubaydah—are off in some undisclosed location around the world. Those left in Cuba, as one counterterrorism official told the New Republic‘s Spencer Ackerman, are “the ash-and-trash jihadi picked up in Afghanistan,” and not the “honest-to-God, cardcarrying members of Al Qaeda–operatives who are worth a shit.”

But no! Says Murdock! You don’t understand! Army general and Southern Command chief Brantz Craddock recently told us, “We have and we are today still getting information that is relevant, that is actionable, and is supporting our service members in the field in the global war on terrorism.” This might be true. On the other hand, it might not. Most of those prisoners have been lounging around in Cuba for three years. How much could they really know? As one official told Ackerman, they can still provide a decent amount of background knowledge—how al-Qaeda works, how people interact, which ethnic groups work with which ethnic groups—but after a time, this too becomes obsolete, as the face of al-Qaeda has changed and the center of the organization’s gravity moves toward Iraq. Well, says Murdock, picture this little smoking gun scenario:

Imagine that the FBI caught a terrorist in March 2006 named Mustafa al-Fissi carrying detailed diagrams of the San Onofre, California, and Seabrook, New Hampshire, atomic energy plants. Today, no Gitmo interrogator could ask detainees about the still-undetected al-Fissi. Next March, however, one or more Gitmoites might be persuaded to sing about al-Fissi, his contacts, his bankers, etc. Sending these intelligence sources beyond U.S. control will, at best, delay our ability to connect these dots. If our foreign friends limit access to transferred Guantanameros, FBI agents might stare at al-Fissi without knowing what some of his terrorist brethren know about him.

Okay, that’s scary, but really, what kind of argument is this? We can’t keep people locked up forever because someday they might—might—know some dude who knows another dude who’s related to a terrorist picked up in San Onofre. On the other hand, Murdock has one point right: the detainees will be much better off in Guantanamo than baking in some hellhole prison in Yemen or Saudi Arabia. But that’s not an excuse to maintain an extralegal prison that undermines the rule of law and hampers law-enforcement efforts, it’s an argument for sorting this stuff out.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate