Homeland Security

Turning Campaign Promises into Policy

The Hill's A.B. Stoddard answers viewer questions about issues surrounding the Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and how President Obama should handle closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.


Safe or Free

The United States treaty and criminal prohibition against torture contains no exceptions. There is no ticking-time-bomb exception. There is no “High Value Detainee” exception. There is no urgent-information exception. Of course, such exceptions can be made part of the law if Congress amends the anti-torture law or the president revokes the torture treaty. But neither was done during the Bush administration.

The United States prosecuted “waterboarding,” i.e., simulated drowning, as torture during World War II when practiced by the Japanese against American captives. The United States law prohibiting torture defines it as creating an imminent fear of death that causes prolonged mental pain or suffering. Republican Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge declared that waterboarding constitutes torture under United States laws. Yet neither the Bush nor Obama administrations have done anything to criminally investigate waterboarding as torture.

Second Thoughts on Cheney Indictment

The following appeared originally in The Washington Times of Monday, May 25.

I began having second thoughts about last week's column urging the indictment of former Vice President Dick Cheney for approving the use of waterboarding and other forms of illegal torture, shortly after it was published and posted last Monday morning — days before the Obama-Cheney back-to-back speeches Thursday.

I Stand with the Speaker and Against Guantánamo

Washington is experiencing déjà vu.

Republicans play the politics of fear and many Democrats run for cover. Republicans play the politics of personal destruction, in this case attacking the Speaker, and many pundits parrot the spin and pretend it is news. Washington wages its war of words while troops in Afghanistan fight without everything they need to win.

Obama Giving Oxygen to Cheney's Fire

If you didn't watch both speeches yesterday from President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, you will want to take the time to watch or read them in full. The dramatic day underscored just how much Obama struggles with balance as a former presidential candidate and new commander in chief.

Indeed, Cheney's whole presentation was at times rather unseemly. He waited for the president to finish before starting his speech so that he could have his own nationally televised moment. He criticized the president for taking too long, mocked him, chided him and all but called him a wimp.

Jim Mills’s Congressional Week in Review

Note from the author: Stay tuned for some exciting details about how to get in on the ground floor of the new Jihad World Theme Park ...

The news hits just kept on coming here in Washington this week.

On the same day President Obama was flexing his newfound automotive muscle at the White House by putting the pedal to the metal on new mileage rules, across town, his former Senate colleagues were slamming on the brakes by striking $80 million out of a war-spending bill designed to fund the Going Out of Business sale at Guantánamo Bay.

U.S. Prison Is Exactly Where They Belong

There are prisoners remaining in Guantánamo who are responsible for murders against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, which is exactly why they should be in U.S. prisons.

If we are trying to honor the memory of victims of Sept. 11, then doesn’t justice demand we try and imprison the terrorists responsible for their deaths within the U.S. penal system? The victims of terrorists deserve an open and transparent trial where those responsible for their deaths are held to full account in the light of day (note that some version of a military commission could accomplish this when necessary).

Gitmo and Promises

NASSAU, Bahamas — While taping and broadcasting our live syndicated radio and TV show from Nassau for a few days, it seems as though the people here can't talk enough about President Obama and the closing of Gitmo.

Did anyone notice the irony this week surrounding the potential closing of Guantánamo Bay and the subsequent relocation of the detainees (we call them terrorists where I come from) to our nation’s shores? I laughed out loud at how quickly Senate Democrats ran from their president when it came time to cast their lot for his half-baked idea to close the prison. Should it have surprised anyone that Obama didn’t have a plan? It certainly didn’t faze me or anyone on these islands …

The Law Professor Vs. The Defense Secretary

The famous French philosopher Blaise Pascal is best known for his “wager.” He said that while it may be impossible to rationally prove the presence of God, it was a bad wager to bet against him. His view was that while it may be a bunch of superstitious mumbo-jumbo, eternity is a long time, and to bet against the presence of God gains you nothing, but betting with Him, no matter how improbable, can earn you eternal returns.

Dick Cheney has a corollary to Pascal’s wager. His view is that it is a bad bet to do anything less than everything you can to stop terrorists from attacking America. That includes using enhanced interrogation techniques, wiretapping, and keeping them housed at Gitmo.

Torture — The Satire

If the vexing question of torture is not resolved by appropriate jurisprudence, it may meet its final demise at the hands of satire.

According to Reuters, human-rights advocates are fighting torture with unusual arguments, including the copyright laws. You read that right. Apparently, they are urging on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners that blasting loud music at prisoners for long periods is torture. I can relate to that. Been in any elevators with piped-in music, or on hold on the phone? Endless playing of Eminem’s music, one detainee related, was the hardest thing he had to endure. “After a while, I felt pretty much dead,” he is reported to have told inquirers. He began to hallucinate — “the music,” he said, “stripped away the last sanctuary you had in your mind.” Lawyers are considering suing the United States government for copyright infringement to end their use of music in their diabolical efforts.