All In | April 08, 2013
>>> today in a very heavy news day, one of the most seismic and significant events went almost entirely unnoticed. i am talking about the appearance of the son-in-law of osama bin laden and one-time spokesperson of al qaeda in a federal court this afternoon in manhattan. he was detained in turkey earlier this year and came by way of jordan to the united states where he has been charged with conspiring to kill americans. now, if you had been listening to the right wing noise machine for the past several years, his very appearance in a new york court should have been a cataclysmic event and yet it was entirely routine. the hearing was so remarkable because of the sheer underwhelmingness of it. none of the doom's day scenarios happened. hardly anyone even noticed it was even taking place. today was also a sign of the obama administration 's open defiance of the incredible right wing backlash they faced in response to their eventually reverse decision to try khalid shake muhammed in new york city , a dream beat that sounded something like this.
>> this is a very dangerous decision and an irresponsible one.
>> it's obvious the 9/11 trials aren't going to be here in new york .
>> what we need to do is deny these people a show trial .
>> this is a continuation of a long-standing plot by a bunch of left wing lawyers who does not love america who want to undermine our cause in the global war on terror .
>> he'll be a rock star in the risen system.
>> risking a whole new round of that, this administration deserves support and applause and to know that liberals who stand for the rule of law have their back if and when the right decides to throw a fit about following the constitution. but unfortunately faces like that are not the norm. right now there are three ways the administration deals with who they think are terrorists. there's the program of targeted killing, the subject of a "new york times" blockbuster and the continued ugly spectacle of guantanamo and the prolonged legal limbo it represents. so today in the hours after a routine moment of simple constitutional due process , the outstanding question is what the trial signals. a turn away from drones and island cages towards the rule of law or simply an anomaly in the administration 's brutal war on terror . joining me jen daskill, here at the table i'm joined by congressman jared polis from colorado and pareese. it's great to have you all here. you just got back from guantanamo and we've been hearing increasingly worrying reports about the spread of a hunger strike and deteriorating conditions. having just been there and having talked today about where this administration is headed on these rule of law questions, what can you tell us about what's going on there?
>> chris, thank you for having me. right now in guantanamo in the year 2013 there are 166 people still detained. they have been detained without charge for over 11 years. the obama administration has cleared more than half of those men for transfer. so there is --
>> meaning we are okay with letting them go. we do not think they are a threat to us.
>> the obama administration has determined that 86 of the 166 do not present a security threat to the yoounited states and can leave. so there has been an ongoing emergency at guantanamo for a long time. but there iright now and that is a hunger strike that most of the men at guantanamo are participating in. it began two months ago. it's over 60 days old. when i was at the camp last week, i met with a few men who i represent. i sat across from them. they have lost 30 to 40 pounds. they are weak. they told me of men in the prison who are skeletal, barely moving, near death, losing consciousness, coughing up blood. the way that the authorities are dealing with those people is when they are passing out, because their blood glucose levels are so low, they're being transferred from the communal camp at guantanamo which is camp 6 to a solitary confinement facility and modelled on solitary confinement facilities in the united states . transferred there for observation and that's when force feeding begins an that's how we're saving life at guantanamo right now.
>> congressman, i have to ask you, sitting here listening to this, congress seems to me to have totally abandoned the field on this. they rose up in revolt of transferring prisoners out of guantanamo and have essentially stipulated in aappropriations riders that you cannot use money to transfer prisoners from there. what is your reaction hearing this deteriorating situation, hearing more than half cleared for release, as a member of the united states congress , what are we doing?
>> first of all, i'm a member of congress that voted against all of those riders and have always been very open to bringing those who do need to face charges here, including to my state of colorado . unfortunately, the majority of congress did feel a different way and did add those riders. look, i think in terms of the new restrictions and many of the people not being able to visit in person with their attorneys because of a moratorium on flying, we need to look at this as well as a fiscal issue. $150 million a year is the cost to u.s. taxpayers of having a facility in guantanamo . it would be 1/30 the cost to house those who need to face charges here in the united states in a supermax facility so i think it's a clear-cut case of being good custodians of tax money, even for those who don't care about the constitutional --
>> can you make that argument to republicans on austerity grounds?
>> it hasn't done it on constitutional grounds. where it looks like cutbacks would have to be made and other areas they want to restore military budget cuts, here's an easy way to find $150 million in savings.
>> jen, you wrote this op-ed in "the new york times" that made be sit up and notice that you had been opposed to guantanamo and its existence and continued existence. you said now almost four years later i have changed my mind, despite recognizing the many policy imperatives in favor of closure, despite the bipartisan support for this position, despite the fact 166 men still languish there, i now believe it should stay open, at least for the short time. while i've been slow to come to this realization, the signs have been evident for some time. as someone who now supports keeping it open, who goes through your mind when you hear pardiss describe the conditions there.
>> i want to be clear about my position. i don't think guantanamo ought to stay open for the long term. what i was responding to is my fear that the bumper sticker of close guantanamo was missing some of the broader underlying issues, which is the questions about when does this conflict end. and until we answer that question, this is this -- there's two -- three categories of detainees at guantanamo . there's the 86 who have been either cleared for transfer or conditional transfer who essentially languish there due to a combination of congressional restrictions and an administration who's kind of given up on transferring some of these detainees out.
>> and also home country refusal to take them.
>> absolutely, absolutely. and then there's this other category of 46 detainees who this administration , just like the past administration , has concluded can't be prosecuted and are too dangerous to release. the justification for detaining them is pursuant to the laws of war so long as there is a conflict going on. and my point in that op-ed was that we need to start -- if we're serious about closing guantanamo , we need to start thinking about when does this conflict end? when does the underlying justification for these detensions end.
>> here's the problem with that. which conflict are we talking about? are we talking about al qaeda and osama bin laden ? osama bin laden has been killed. al qaeda is in disarray. are we talking about new conflicts like syria? there's always going to be a conflict. i think we have a realistic plan. president obama needs to appoint a new special envoy to replace david fried . we surcurrently have no plan, no direction. i think we need a clear pathway to do it. there needs to be a clear pathway over the coming weeks and months.
>> i want to jump in here.
>> i think in 24 hours from now there actually could be transfers that resume.
>> i want you to hold that thought because when we talk about guantanamo , it seems like a just solutionless desert of misery, and if there's something that we can do concretely to move forward, i want to hear about that right after we take this