Maddow: Congress hopes Guantanamo inmates will ‘die of their own accord’

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 9:32 EDT
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On Monday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow tore into Congressional inaction on the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, accusing them of hoping that the prisoners there will all die before elected officials have to take any action on their behalf.

Maddow began by discussing some of the details of the court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who allegedly opened fire at Ft. Hood Army Base in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding dozens of others. Hasan is representing himself in court, which, Maddow said, “really never works out well.”

The judge has given Hasan extra time to work on his defense, since the one he tried to present last week was ruled to have insufficient legal merit. Because he is acting as his own attorney, Maddow said, Hasan will be confronting some of the people in court who were shot and wounded in the attack, as well as witnesses. The trial, said Maddow, promises to have have some “circus-like elements and some weird elements, but it soldiers on.”

Then, she said, there are the military tribunals in Cuba at Guantanamo. “That, too has basically been nuts.”

“From time to time the defendants occasionally refuse to participate,” she said, “and instead kneel in prayer in the courtroom. They refuse to listen to the translations of the court proceedings. They sometimes ignore all the judge’s questions and read from magazines in the courtroom instead. But that tribunal goes on.”

“People who commit crimes of violence for political reasons,” Maddow said, often try to turn their trials into circuses in order to make political statements.

“And you know what? Who cares?” she continued. “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed wears something weird to court and tries to tell everybody that 9/11 was a great idea. Okay, sure, that happened. He’s neither more guilty nor less guilty as a result. Major Nidal Hasan wants to be his own lawyer and pledge his protective love for one-eyed Mullah Omar in his court-martial? Knock yourself out, big guy.”

Military trials, she said, and courts martial are not immune to the histrionics of ideologue defendants. Neither are federal trials. And yet, Congress is afraid to have these trials and detentions on American soil where the public can observe them.

On Monday, the federal government was forced by a lawsuit filed by the Miami Herald to release the names of 46 detainees stranded at Guantanamo who aren’t eligible for even the type of special military trials that have been set up there. They are slated as being held in “continued detention” without a chance of trial.

“There’s not evidence enough against them for a real trial,” she explained, “and there’s no plan the Pentagon thinks is safe for releasing them, either. So they sit. And Congress says nothing can change, it must stay like this forever.”

There were supposed to be two other names on that list of 46, but they have died at the prison. One died of a heart attack and the other hung himself using a bed sheet.

“Waiting for more of these guys to just die is not actually a policy,” said Maddow. “But Congress is once again forcing President Obama to veto all funding for the U.S. military if he wants to even try to close Guantanamo, and that’s because Congress is terrified and they’re hoping enough men sent to that prison by George W. Bush will just die there of their own accord before Congress has to figure out what ought to be done with them.”

Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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