Nearly 60 percent of the detainees at Guantanamo are currently on hunger strike, in what experts and their lawyers say is a protest against their indefinite incarceration there. Amid the crisis, President Obama announced this week that he will renew his administration’s efforts to close the prison.
The events sparked a debate on CNN last night, prompting former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to defend his former boss’s decision to open Gitmo to begin with. “We have it because these people did not even follow the law of war, let alone the rule of war,” he said, adding, “These people didn’t even wear a military uniform. They engaged in battle against America as terrorists, a violation of the laws of war. That’s why Guantanamo got invented.”
“This country fought Adolf Hitler. And I don’t really believe that Osama bin Laden and his group are worse or more dangerous than Adolf Hitler,” CNN legal expert Jeffery Toobin countered Fleischer, adding, “We managed to defeat Adolf Hitler by following the rule of law.”
Backed in a corner, Fleischer then went a bit off the rail:
FLEISCHER: They [the Germans] followed the law of war. They wore uniforms and they fought us on battlefields. These people are fundamentally, totally by design different. And they need to be treated in a different extrajudicial system.
Apparently, according to Fleischer, in order to follow the laws of war, all one has to do is wear a uniform and fight the enemy on a grassy field. But of course the Germans committed countless brutal and vicious war crimes during World War II. We’re assuming Mr. Fleischer knows this, but it’s striking how low he’ll go to defend the Bush administration’s failed and discredited security policies.