Besides being a cool musician, Matthew Good is also a cool blogger, one deeply concerned by a lot of the same things that deeply concern me. Here he is doing his best to follow the logical thread of the Obama administration’s arguments on Guantanamo detainees. In particular, he’s looking at the subset of detainees who are deemed “too dangerous to release,” but who cannot be charged, presumably because the only evidence the government has against them was obtained by torture: The 47.
Of course, detainees are not viewed as ‘prisoners of war’ by the US, rendering the application of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions moot. So given that US law doesn’t apply, and international law doesn’t apply, one has to ask the question – would simply eliminating them be breaking the law?
Given the vast ambiguities used to justify their detention, the answer to that question is rather straightforward – the law isn’t applicable. If they can be detained indefinitely without legal recourse, then they can be killed without legal recourse. They aren’t prisoners of war, according to the United States they have no legal rights, so the law doesn’t apply. That said, if they are as dangerous as the Justice Department claims them to be, eliminating them wouldn’t be in breach of anything being that nothing applies. In the end, the only thing standing in the way of that option is negative publicity.
When you get right down to it, the issue really is that simple. I think this might actually be a worthwhile avenue for the opponents of state-sponsored torture to take: Tell Obama to put up or shut up. If the rule of law means anything, then charge these guys or let them go. And if the rule of law doesn’t mean anything, then just kill them already, quickly and cleanly, rather than a little at a time by locking them away with no legal recourse for the rest of their lives.