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Washington Plays the Idiot With Guantanamo

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Posted on Sep 29, 2009
AP / Lynne Sladky

A detainee is rolled on a gurney to an interrogation session at the military prison at Guantanamo in this file photo.

By Marie Cocco

The latest turn in the nation’s confrontation with terrorism comes to us as opera buffa. The scenario would be comic if it were not so unnerving.

In New York, law enforcement authorities have begun laying out a chilling case against a legal immigrant from Afghanistan who lived in Queens. Najbullah Zazi allegedly received terrorist training in Pakistan, returned to the United States through John F. Kennedy Airport, traveled to the Denver area and, in the days leading up to the eighth anniversary of 9/11, amassed a stockpile of readily available chemicals—basic beauty supplies—and returned to New York in an apparent plot to commit murder and mayhem.

Suspicious plans of a less advanced nature have been uncovered in Texas and in Illinois, but the New York case appears to be the single most serious terrorism plot dismantled since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The components of the bomb Zazi was allegedly assembling were the same as those used in the 2005 London train bombings and in the 2001 “shoe bomb” plot by Richard Reid, according to court documents prosecutors filed in New York.

Meanwhile, even as the FBI, New York police and others were doing the jobs we fully expect of them, Washington was playing an idiotic parlor game.

At issue is the fate of President Obama’s much-trumpeted decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year after his taking office—that is, about four months from now. The prison festers as a legacy of the Bush administration’s use of roundups and detentions without evidence, torture and other abuses of law that has made it difficult to get even those detainees the U.S. government already has determined to be innocent released and repatriated to their home countries—or anywhere else.

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Much political clucking is heard over a single footnote in the shameful narrative of Guantanamo: Was it a mistake for the new president to pledge a shuttering of the camp within a year? Which staff member is to blame?

Who cares?

The unfolding Zazi case tells you everything about why Guantanamo has been a failure. It shows how rancid are the politics of terrorism on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have stripped money out of military spending measures that would have been used for the closure. They also have vowed, with great gusts of indignation, that no detainee who has ever been held at Guantanamo (none has actually been tried and convicted of terrorism) shall ever—ever—be imprisoned in the United States. Nor, says a proposal introduced by Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, shall any detainee who ever was held at Guantanamo be moved to U.S. soil, even to be sheltered in supermax prisons where terrorists have long been in residence.

At the moment, Zazi is being held at a federal lockup in Brooklyn—the jail is hardly set upon a barren plain. His court appearances will be in the Brooklyn federal courthouse, in a neighborhood where from certain vantage points there is a stunning view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, no longer punctuated by the Twin Towers. New Yorkers do not quiver at his mere presence beneath many layers of security.

If Zazi and any others are convicted of conspiring to commit a heinous terrorist act, they would be incarcerated somewhere in the federal prison system. It already holds 215 inmates with convictions related to international terrorism and 124 convicted domestic terrorists. Among those in custody are Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “blind sheik” who orchestrated the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks, bridges and tunnels. The shoe-bomber Reid also is in the capable hands of the Bureau of Prisons, as are Theodore (The Unabomber) Kaczynski and Terry Nichols, a conspirator in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The political chatter about Guantanamo never illuminates the truth. Only a handful of those ever taken there posed a serious threat to the United States, records show. The prison camp is no necessity but a continued impediment to rational discourse about terrorism.

And it is an insult to the law enforcement officials who deliver us from the real dangers and lock up terrorists without causing a foreign policy crisis or providing grist for political games.

Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)washpost.com.

© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, October 1, 2009 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

Accurate observation. NYPD staff are fired for conducting genuine anti-terrorist work just as are FBI, CIA and similar employees, similar to Sibel Edmonds. Numerous others with lower profiles never break thru the “media barrier”, since “supervisory staff” in the media dont want to be fired for letting the truth leak out. Who was the top “pimp” for the NAZIs/zionists in NYC, who organized the immediate removal of all finger-pointing “trash” from the WTC site? Just another, high-level, male terrorist whose terrorist buddies made into a “hero”? Once again, misuse of the “media puppetry.” Hats off to altruistic members of the NYPD, FBI, CIA, and similar organizations, who practice patriotism instead of terrorism. Come on out of the woodwork, folks.

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By berealius, September 30, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Come on, be real.  Zazi was either a govt fraud—WMDs (as the coordinated media called them) from hydrogen peroxide & nail polish remover—sure.  Or he was the real deal patsy and the FBI actually planned an attack on NYC transit on 9/11/09 with him as the front man.  Which the NYPD put a stop to.  Why did top NYPD anti-terrorist officers lose their jobs?  Maybe they were targetting the real terrorists.  NYPD 1, FBI 0.

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By Frosted Flake, September 30, 2009 at 7:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Y’know…

If I were to take my hunting rifle to the corner gas station and put a round into the PROPANE TANK…

And then drive to the next station…

I would need no help: no Co-Conspirator, no Organization, no Special Equipment, I would not even need a PLAN…

And there would be not one thing you or anyone could do to prevent, anticipate or put a stop to any of it…

It is EASY, physically.

And no one, but no one, including NO ONE… HAS EVER DONE THIS.

Y’know… either “The Terrorists” are the laziest enemies the United States has ever, EVER had… or they are fictional.

Puppets.

A bogyman to shake at you in the dark.

To give you reason to fear to strike a light.

And do what you are told, for safety’s sake. Or else.

It is not like this sorta stuff doesn’t fill the history books.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, September 30, 2009 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

Well the title of this thread is absurd on it’s face;
“Washington PLAYS the Idiot”? Washington has always
BEEN the idiot! Geez, get a grip!

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 30, 2009 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

An intelligent, brief overview of the Guantanamo abortion, and American leadership terrorists behind the mess. The original settlers of the North American continent have a saying. In spite of the genocide against them conducted by the british, german, spanish and American powers that were, their remnant holds to the saying. “What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”  By observing the actions that do/do not follow-on to what Mr. Obama has said, one draws the conclusion that the same industrial-political machine that elected the NAZI Bush family, was behind the election of Mr. Obama. The status-quo continues, with different faces, words and smiles. Some folk call it the Nazi machine, transferred from Berlin to Wash. D.C. via “Operation Paper-Clip,” to which the zionists have attached. It smells heavily of rockefeller oil.

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By Andrew Nichols, September 29, 2009 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One thing I dont get is why the USA maintains a naval base in Cuba anyway. I could’t see the USA honouring a simialr “lease” on US territory for the Cuban navy. The prison thing just amplifies the juvenile bullying. - Andrew Nichols - NZ

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By american shopman, September 29, 2009 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Kerry was correct in’04. Yet for 60k votes in Ohio , we got Bush revisited. Tragic. Of course we need police work to stop threats , not mass slaughter.

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By Kevin Richard, September 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Its been definitely frustrating to see the downward
slide of Guantanamo I say close it down and ensure
never to let it happen again I’m surprised that Obama
has been so slow to act on this problem.

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By Jean Gerard, September 29, 2009 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THE GUANTANAMO DIALOG

God: Now here’s one you can have.  I don’t want him.
Satan: I don’t want him either.  He’s innocent.
God: Yeah, I know.  But we paid money to capture him and I don’t want the facts on that to come out.
Satan:  I told you from the start that I was only taking the ones that were actually guilty.
God:  Yeah, but how would we know?  None of them’s had a fair trial yet.
Satan:  Well give them a trial, then.  Talk to me after that.
God: It’s gonna take time.  We gotta look at all the photos.And go over all the evidence, and nobody wants to do that. It’s too gruesome.
Satan:  That’s not my worry, old man.  You’re the one who started all this saints and sinners business.  I told you from the start it wasn’t gonna work.
God: Well, there didn’t seem to be any other way.  Everybody can’t end up in the same place, you know.  Then there’d be no such thing as justice.
Satan:  You should have thought of the complications before we began.  I didn’t want anything to do with it.  Judging other people is an ugly job.  Everybody makes mistakes.
God: But we gotta have a system!  Otherwise the law means nothing. That’s why I invented the Ten Commandments.
Satan: Nobody pays any attention to them anymore, especially since the humans invented war.  Now they got all those weapons of mass destruction and stuff, they’ll never quit killing each other.
God:  That’s what I’m telling you.  People gotta be punished, don’t they? I thought that’s what you were supposed to do.
Satan:  I’m sorry, man, but I just can’t take ‘em all. There’s too many of them.
God: Well where can I put them?  I got nowhere near enough room up here. Everybody’s saying they don’t want them in their backyard.
Satan:  Well, why don’t you just send them back where they came from?
God: Sounds easy, but it won’t work.  They might be tortured.

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