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My Turn: Ayotte must change her position on Guantanamo

Sen. Kelly Ayotte is not only impeding President Obama’s promise to close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, she’s actively trying to keep the facility open. Just last month, she proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have made it even more difficult than it already is to transfer prisoners. Some Guantanamo detainees have been held without charges for more than 10 years. This is in clear violation of their right to a fair trial in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In an historical context, Ayotte’s efforts to keep the facility open and continue preventing trials and transfers for detainees will surely be looked back on as horribly misguided.

I was raised in New Hampshire as the daughter of an attorney who taught my siblings and me that justice must be served under the law. In keeping with that legacy, and in my role as a faculty member in the New Hampshire state university system, I make sure that when I teach courses on Japanese culture we discuss the history of the Japanese in the United States. My students learn how during World War II, 127,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese heritage were denied their freedom and livelihoods. They were forced into internment camps due only to the fact that they shared the same ethnic background as the enemy during wartime. At that time, over 5,500 U.S.-born citizens of Japanese descent were denied due process and coerced into renouncing their citizenship; most of them left stateless until the renunciations were later overturned as illegal by the courts.

It was wrong of our government to demonize and dehumanize these individuals and to deny them of their most basic rights and liberties. It was wrong to do so in the midst of World War II, just as it is wrong today for our government to deny the individuals held at Guantanamo Bay their right to due process and a fair trial.

Human rights, including the right to a fair trial, apply to all individuals, not only those who share our citizenship. They are absolute and not to be compromised for the sake of political expediency.

There are safe, effective and lawful alternatives to Guantanamo.

Each detainee should either be charged and fairly tried in a U.S. federal court or be released. This way, any defendant found guilty would be punished as specified by U.S. law. Of the 164 detainees being held at Guantanamo, 84 have already been cleared for transfer. Sen. Carl Levin has proposed, and the Senate has upheld, new Guantanamo transfer provisions that will give the president the flexibility to transfer detainees who have been charged to the U.S. for trial in federal court. For those cleared for release, the new provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 will allow them to be transferred to other countries.

Sen. Ayotte, don’t leave the state of New Hampshire with an historical legacy of rationalizing the perpetration of human rights abuses in the name of national security.

Instead of trying to maintain a system of indefinite detention and the deprivation of basic rights, our elected officials should support the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

We must work to become defenders of human rights for all people; we must get on the right side of history.

(Pam Ikegami of Portsmouth teaches at the University of New Hampshire. She is a volunteer legislative coordinator for Amnesty International USA.)

Legacy Comments31

Let's look at healthcare another way. The United States spends almost $56B in foreign aid. Our own citizens are suffering, hungry and according to ? statistics, 45,000,000 citizens do not have health care, or access to health care or insurance. The average plan in the private insurance sector is around $12,000. You could fully cover all of the 15% uninsured for $54B without impacting any of those who are happy with their doctor, insurance and medications now. ($12,000 insurance premium X 45,000,000 people All we have to do is cut back on foreign aid. Additionally, in the private sector another $20B is paid by charitable foundations, religious organizations, etc. It seems more practical and common sensical that a healthy society would be more productive and therefore be able to help the rest of the developed world. If progressives truly want people covered with health care, there are plenty of things you can cut that would add up to that amount to cover everyone. The GAO 2012 report on waste and duplication identifies $510B in duplicative waste programs and agencies in the federal government. Let's start there? They identified $4B alone being lost and wasted on wind power projects in fraud and duplicative projects. If we put Americans first, we all win and we all become healthy and productive. There are ways to do this and no one sees a path beyond continued increased federal spending.

Kuster goes VIRAL - see this story... Somebody Tell Democrat Ann Kuster That Her Response About Benghazi Is the Worst We´ve Ever Seen ... Independent Journal Review, by Bubba Atkinson

Obama pledged to close Guantanamo as one of his first actions. He had a democrat congress, and a democrat senate so there was no one to stop him and now it is Kelly Ayotte's fault. Kelly Ayotte did not take office until 2011, two years after Obama the liar. So now Guantanamo is Kelly Ayotte's fault. The democrats are desperate. The American people do not want terrorists on their soil and that is what Kelly Ayotte is voting for. Unlike Kelly Ayotte who votes for her constituents Jeanne Shaheen votes against her constituents. It is Shaheen who needs to be voted out of office.

As has been pointed out several times here, the Democrats had a controlling majority in Congress for about 6 weeks during the entire first 2 years of the Obama administration.

And in those six weeks they passed Obamacare against the will of the majority of Americans. Enough said.

such a shame that the democrats are so vacant that they are incapable of any coalition building and need to do everything unilaterally. democrats are historically one of the most partisan useless legislatures in history.

So you say. But a majority of Americans then and now want dramatic improvements to our current system. Obama campaigned on it, it passed Congress, it passed muster in the SCOTUS, and the American people, despite the best efforts of the Republican Party, re-elected him. Get over it.

Wrong. At the time Obamacare was being pushed, 85% of Americans liked their doctor and healthcare and about 62% liked their insurance. Why do we need to turn a system upside down for 15% of the population. Why do the 85% need to double premiums and quadruple deductibles to serve 15% of the people. It was a canard when we were told that "you pay for those people to use emergency rooms anyway" as it not costs everyone more to have them covered. Reconciliation is a way to pass a bill to usurp the will of the people who in overwhelming majority did not like Obamacare. The individual mandate passed muster in the SCOTUS, the whole bill was never considered and the justices said that they were not reading or ruling on the whole law. Obama got elected with a smaller majority than before and "dramatic improvements" is your way of justifying and spinning the propaganda supporting Obamacare. Citizens United passed SCOTUS muster so I guess you must "get over it".

No, your post is wrong on several counts. There is ample public support for systemic change, and has been for a long time, as demonstrated via data going back years. The system works fine for most--until they really need it. Insurance has long cherry-picked the healthy, socializing the costs of healthcare for the sick, while skimming profits from the healthy--often with inferior products that people found left them with inadequate coverage when they needed it. The ill effects of our healthcare system have been documented for years, in the form of bankruptcies, lost homes, ill health, and premature deaths. Your unsourced figures should be treated skeptically; your umbrage at having to help cover those less fortunate reflects what exactly?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, maybe a majority of those who view the world from the progressive perspective but no one wanted anything like Obamacare.

current events for the history teacher..... 81% Favor Repealing or Changing Health Care Law

Source? Link? The word "or" matters.

True, but with the election of Scott Brown, what did the democrats do ?? Lawrence Odonnel said it best..."But this is unprecedented, using reconciliation this way. Because what they’ve done, is that they’ve abandoned a bill in mid-conference. The Senate passed a bill, the House passed a bill. They were in mid-conference negotiating this bill, in conference, and they said it’s going to be impossible for us to pass it now because of Scott Brown, so we’re going to abandon conferencing this bill and move over to another legislative vehicle, called reconciliation. To handle something you’ve already been legislating another way, now, that’s never occurred before. Never, never, never.

But the use of reconciliation itself, when it appears likely a bill will not pass otherwise, is not unknown, and not limited to budgetary matters. Since the Reagan administration, both parties have used the procedure when it suited. Among other things, reconciliation has been used to pass Medicare reform, portability of health insurance, and the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Judd Gregg supported its use to allow drilling in ANWR in 2005, then complained about its use in 2009.

And Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and even Barack Obama spoke out vehemently over the threat by Republicans to use the nuclear option and what happened , they all supported using it and did in fact use it. Barack Obama talked about the debt and deficits referring the mortgaging our nations future as "un-American" and he has taken that road to the n'th degree. Your point??

I think my previous post on the use of reconciliation was clear and to the point. Unlike yours.

Bruce, don't confuse them with facts. Their minds are made up.

Please, the good Senator needs something to run on in 2016. She will have the evils of Guantanamo and the Democrats inability to work with congress on shutting it down.

Only a flaming liberal democrat could believe that there is any chance of re-rehabilitation for these terrorists. Obama and the democrats have already released some that have been found right back on the battlefield. One released terrorist was part of the Benghazi raid that killed our Ambassador. That would be the murder that NObama and HILLARY pledged was caused by a reaction to a movie.

Your lack of logic just boggles the mind! They consider themselves warriors, we consider them terrorists. It is a warrior's fundamental duty to oppose the enemy whenever possible. You really don't think our own captured service members, when either released or escaped from their captivity didn't go back into the battlefield?

I'll bite - document one USA POW that went back to terrorism. Only a flaming liberal could call an un-uniformed, un-documented country-less terrorist a warrior

..."an un-uniformed, un-documented country-less...warrior": sounds like these might fit the description: Minutemen, Rodgers' Rangers--rabble in arms. Ask the British what they thought of them, regarding them as treasonous rebels, perhaps?

If it had not been for those patriots you might not be here today to rant and rave about all things extreme and unAmerican. Second thought.....darn those Minutemen!!

Thanks for the off-topic rant once more impugning my patriotism, but yours is the Disney version of American history. Many of those 'patriots' were lousy soldiers. And only a minority of the colonial population supported independence. One third were Loyalists who supported Crown and Country. One third were neutral. One third supported the colonials. The rabble in arms were not very good soldiers,--unreliable and frequently AWOL. Washington trained an army--professionalizing the soldiers. But equally important were the French. Without their help, we would not have prevailed.

Do you consider Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera warriors or terrorists?

Different century, different approach, different circumstances.

That is very different and you know it. They kill at whim due to the fact that someone does not believe in Allah.

We may regard suicide bombers as irrational monsters, but they can hardly be accused of killing "at whim". And as often as not, in Iraq and Afghanistan, those they kill are fellow Muslims.

The former detainee possibly linked to the Benghazi attack was released by GW Bush, not Obama.

there is a big story there too..

A big story? Really? In the fog of a civil war?And based on slight, circumstantial evidence, and given added frisson with a whiff of conspiracy or cover-up, no doubt.

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