Sabin Willett on Embracing Guantanamo

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 9:11 AM

I'm delighted that my little post from the other day is eliciting such thoughtful and interesting reaction. I just received the following email from habeas lawyer Sabin Willett:

I enjoy your sparring with Brother Remes.
Embrace it?  The real question is whether we are a people who must hold a Taliban private until the Greek Kalends in order to feel safe.  And are content to debate forever over how to try an alleged war criminal, rather than actually trying him.  The Congress says we are that timorous a people.  They appear to be right.  We're not our grandfathers, that's for sure. 
And we really aren't a country committed to an independent judiciary, that's become magnificently clear.  You can have a habeas hearing, but you can't have a judicial remedy.  The Supreme Court issued a brave essay in 2008, but since then has beat a retreat from every engagement that would give its essay force.  Quality of evidence, standard of appellate review, remedy.  The essay has been filleted by the circuit.  Full of sound and fury -- but what does it signify?  A fellow wins his case against the government and the remedy is for the court to say to the jailer, "please will you do something about it?"
Embrace it.  Hmmm.  The thing I've never understood is, why at least not convert GTMO to a POW camp?  A real one?  With real, honorable treatment of the enemy, as required by law and the service field manuals?  Why the cages, interrogations, etc etc etc?  Why arent there gardens, orchestras, newsletters, canteens, jobs -- or were the Nazis (who had all those things in camps in Texas and Alabama) less dangerous than Taliban privates?
America is Winston Smith.  You remember how Orwell's 1984 ends. 
[S]he loved Guantanamo.