out to lunch?

At the California State Democratic Convention held in San Diego this past weekend, John Edwards emphatically said that, as President, the first thing he would do is close the detention center in Guantanamo that houses known Al-Quaeda terrorists.

Perhaps, in a fit of exuberance in speaking in front of a throng of activist Democrats, Edwards simply let his rhetoric get ahead of himself, in an attempt to out do his opponents when it comes to correcting various G.W. Bush foreign policy blunders.

I was and remain dumbfounded by this statement. Prior to San Diego, I don’t recall hearing Edwards say anything about closing Guantanamo, and a Google search on “John Edwards” and “Guantanamo” suggests that, indeed, this is a new platform. One Google link is to a March 2007 piece summarizing a New York Times article in which Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Bush to close Guantanamo and move detainees to somewhere in the US. But clearly Gates intended on continuing Guantanamo tactics — just not in Cuba.

It might be that Edwards meant to say that he is troubled by what goes on there and, as President, he will institute reforms, all the while recognizing the need for a detention facility like Guantanamo. But the fact remains, as I watched the 11 o’clock news, I saw and heard John Edwards say in no uncertain term, “When I am President, on the first day in office, you have my word that Guantanamo will be closed.”

If he truly seeks to close Guantanamo and all that this implies, then, in good conscience, I cannot support Edwards for President. There are terrorists out there who have killed over 3,000 Americans on 9-11, as well as countless more innocent people in places such as Kenya and tourist spots in Indonesia. They will stop at nothing to kill even more innocents here and abroad.

If a facility such as Guantanamo is the difference between getting timely information crucial to preventing future attacks, then we need a Guantanamo. If reforms are called for, then do so. But don’t throw the “baby out with the bath water.”


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