Get Some from Gitmo
If we really have to close the Guantanamo detention camp,
here's an idea. . .
Often times while watching the desert sun subside from the relaxing confines of my patio, I load up a disc of Jimmy Buffett and nurse a delicious Mexican beer. I dream of idyllic seaside lifestyles and languid afternoons, wishing I were in Tijuana (eating barbecued iguana). Destinations like Acapulco, Jamaica, Barbados and Havana come to mind as the rhythm of steel drums and clinking glassware comforts me. Which makes me wonder why so many people support the closing of our American resort compound in Guantanamo Bay, which was a swell place for expatriated Al Qaeda men-of-action to unwind.
Our nation has enjoyed a vacation property in Cuba since 1903, when some of our country's finest gunboat diplomacy earned us 45 acres of oceanfront property in Cuba. After obtaining the entire United States from England, France, Mexico, Spain, Russia and various indigent peoples for the paltry sum of a few shiny beads, cold cash and hot lead, our government was proving quite effective at land acquisition. The US made Cuba an offer they couldn't refuse (give it up or we start making holes all over Cuba) and Guantanamo Bay was leased for eternity for "fueling and naval purposes only." Although America continues to write monthly rent checks of $4,085, Uncle Fidel refuses to cash them. As a landlord, that's pretty much the opposite of how you're supposed to do things.
Since 9/11, Gitmo has become a sort of year-round summer camp for suspected terrorists, enemy combatants and Amway salesmen. Instead of rum drinks and calypso music, these "campers" get to enjoy prison cells and interrogation. It's sort of like going to a time-share presentation in Mazatlan, except they really do keep them there forever unless they sign legal papers.
Not too many years ago, the international community was shocked when photos surfaced showing inhumane conditions. Things were out of control and people were being deprived of basic human rights, living in filth and squalor, with the implicit approval of a government that didn't care about international law. But Fidel Castro still wouldn't take responsibility for the conditions in his Cuba.
Unfortunately, photographs of American soldiers torturing prisoners began to show up, too. Hooded prisoners were hooked to electrical wires, vicious dogs were set on them, and they were forced to live in their own filth without the comfort of their religious practices. In such a repressive environment, they weren't even given the ability to cook up plots to murder innocent nonbelievers. Surprisingly, many Americans were okay with that.
Many others were not. The winds of change swept over the American political landscape last year, and our new president has vowed to close the detention camp by year's end. A lot of the detainees are hoping they'll get to go to Branson or Disneyland instead, but lawmakers are considering alternate lodgings at various federal prisons.
I personally think our Guv should take this opportunity to bring some top-shelf economic development to the state. New Mexico is perfectly positioned to host our nation's former Gitmo guests. Conditions in our state are so humane, many of us actually live here by choice. Detainees would prefer it here because it's far less humid, it more closely resembles their arid homelands, and there's plenty of room for prayer rugs. Just like Alcatraz, escape attempts would be practically nil because of all the snakes, scorpions, waterless desert and drunk drivers surrounding the prison.
Amnesty International has never complained about the conditions in New Mexico, so they can stay focused on printing bumper stickers advocating the release of Leonard Peltier. The Geneva Convention doesn't apply to our state since we're completely unconventional, and the United Nations is still trying to locate us on a map. Without outside oversight, we could probably ratchet up the interrogations by placing the detainees in our Motor Vehicle Department offices, feeding them the same mouth-blistering chile we eat, and having them kill all the spiders in our bathtubs. Our nation's intelligence community will be in awe of our effective techniques.
If we turn out the lights at Guantanamo and give the keys back to Fidel's boys, our nation will be giving up something we'll never, ever be able to get back. More important, these misunderstood Al Qaeda bungholes will lose their oceanfront property, and we'll have to figure out a way to entertain them that doesn't offend certain delicate international sensibilities. There are worse things than setting up a camp for them in our own backyard, which is more polite and humane than, say, blowing up car bombs in their living rooms.
The Department of Homeland Security can find Henry Lightcap in Las Cruces.