[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Mel Martinez and Guantanamo

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mel Martinez and Guantanamo

Florida Senator Mel Martinez announced to a group of newspaper editors in Key West yesterday that the Bush administration should consider closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo and Carol Rosenberg report.

Martinez said:
''It's become an icon for bad news, for bad stories. And at some point you wonder the cost-benefit ratio: How much do you get out of having that facility there? Is it serving all the purposes you thought it would serve when initially you began it? Or can this be done some other way a little better?''

Martinez also said: ``It's not very American, by the way, to be holding people indefinitely. Now they're like POWs, and the conflict is still ongoing, and typically you wouldn't release POWs until the end of the conflict.''

Perhaps it is a bit surprising that Martinez, known as a stauch supporter of the Bush administration, would speak out in criticism against such a high profile issue. I'm sure many Democrats and anti-Bushies will jump on this story and relish that one of Bush's closest allies in the Senate has openly questioned one of his policies. To those people I say, "so what?".

President Bush himself has stated that the administration has been "looking at all alternatives". I don't think closing the prison camp right now is the best idea. What will happen to the 500 or so prisoners? Do we trust their home countries to prosecute them, or will they be allowed to run free and possibly plot more acts of terrorism against the U.S.?

I agree that the prison camp status has been too stagnant. Let's come up with a better system to deal with the prisoners. Use the legal process and go over the prisoners' cases to determine where they belong. However, let's not just close the camp and let these people free, as people such as Jimmy Carter have suggested.


Anonymous Juan Paxety said...

A question to ask - are the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq now strong enought to hold and prosecute?

It's too bad the international community is so insanely self-interested right now. We really need a new definition for these folks. The POW status under the Geneva Conventions doesn't address a non-uniformed, non-governmental or quasi-governmental terrorist. Should there be a new status of prisoner, or should they simply be considered criminals? And what country has jurisdiction to try them?

All questions for thoughtful debate, but I'm not sure we can get that now.

10:52 AM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger Robert said...


You said it much better than I could have. People complain about the lack of activity in Guantanamo, but instead of coming up with rational solutions, some let partisan views cloud their thinking and demand an immediate closing of the camp.

I don't think Martinez is saying that closing the camp is the only alternative, but it's obvious that the situation over there needs to move forward in some way.

11:39 AM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger David R. Mark said...

Maybe it is just coincidence that Martinez is taking a position counter to the Bush Administration on Guantanamo, at about the same time that Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) spoke out against the FDA, and just a few weeks after seven Republican senators helped reach a compromise on Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, going against Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), who was threatening to end the two-century practice of filibusters at the behest of the administration.

Or maybe some Republicans sense that the Bush ship is sinking -- and that they should look out for their own careers, and not the president's agenda with blinders on.

Consider that the Republicans in "Group of 14" include liberal Republicans Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Olympia Snowe of Maine, as well as former (and possibly future) presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona, and possible 2008 candidates Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Oh sure, some of the above may be positioning themselves against Frist for the 2008 race. But when you factor in Martinez and Grassley, you have nine Republican senators, out of 55, who have taken a public stance against the administration in less than a month. When was the last time you can say that's happened, since Bush entered office?

4:31 PM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger Robert said...


You make some good points, although I see all this as jockeying for position in 2008 instead of bailing out of a sinking ship. I recall Al Gore going against Clinton on a few issues right before the 2000 election to try to appear more "moderate".

As far as the filibusters go, just as many on the other side of the hall were disappointed that the compromise was reached. It wasn't just the administration or Frist.

5:10 PM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I didn't vote for Mel Martinez in the primary. He's a trial lawyer for one thing. I don't like him taking this stance on Guantanamo. I heard Dick Cheney's version of what's going on at Guantanamo and I hear myself saying "Yep, yep, right, yep". I told a friend I wasn't going to vote for Martinez in the primary and he said "but he's Cuban". And I said "so what". One of the biggest problems today is people voting for other people that "look" like them. I ended up voting for Martinez in the general election because I'm a Republican (but not because I'm Cuban or he's Cuban). This guy already has a strike against him in my book with this statement about Guantanamo. Maybe he's trying to synch up with John (Democrat in disguise) McCain.

12:07 AM, June 14, 2005  
Blogger David R. Mark said...

I'd agree this was jockeying for 2008 if the various outspoken Republicans were all potential candidates. But out of the nine I mention, only three are seen as possibilities, right? What about the other six?

I stick with the notion that these guys are protecting their own futures, because the truth is, Bush is a lame duck.

12:25 AM, June 14, 2005  
Blogger Robert said...


I didn't vote for Martinez either. He really disappointed me with his dirty campaign tactics and accusations against Bill McCollum. I guess I expected better out of Martinez because of his Cuban background. Maybe that's a bit unfair.

7:41 AM, June 14, 2005  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I voted for Doug Gallagher. A true conservative. While we're on the subject of disappointments I thing GWB has been a disappointment. He's basically the Republican version of Clinton. Triangulating the issues. I'm a Reagan Republican. You always knew where he stood. No calculations.

6:44 PM, June 16, 2005  
Blogger Robert said...

I agree about Reagan. GWB's OK in my book, although he hasn't always made the right decisions. Too much pandering to the far right, (mainly Christian fundamentalists) and I just wished he would have admitted error a lot sooner in the miscalculations of the WMDs. He could have done that and still have illustrated several good reasons for being in Iraq.

7:16 PM, June 16, 2005  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I think the WMD is much ado about nothing. Those weapons probably went into Syria before Shock and Awe ever started. The media has jumped on the absence of WMD in a game of gotcha but I remember the UN speech Bush gave and WMD was only one of the reasons (there were like 10 total) to go to war. The media has done little to cover the corrupt UN and that Oil for Food program. It's just not sexy enough. Plus the UN can't be the bad guy because the US is the bad guy. Saddam needed to be gotten. Think about this. If we had left Iraq the day we caught Saddam, what would have the media said? "Oh the US goes in and invades a country and leaves it in the lurch!" So we stay and try to help and all we hear is "bring back the troops" and "XX number of soldiers have been killed in Iraq". We're there today because of them. I'm pissed with Bush about his failure to secure the border, his implementation of this HUGE medicare drug benefit, his failure manage a congress of HIS OWN PARTY. What could have Reagan done if he had the house and Senate? He would have done everything he did, AND balanced the budget! Pisses me off.

11:08 PM, June 16, 2005  

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