President Donald Trump signed a little-discussed executive order last week reversing the previous administration’s order to close the detention facility at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). The President is keeping his promise: “When it comes to terrorism, we will do whatever is necessary to protect our nation.”
Fortunately, President Barack Obama never delivered on the 2009 executive order to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay, yet his action needed to be reversed. The Obama administration worked from a failed ideology of peace through appeasement. In contrast, President Trump understands the Reagan concept of “Peace Through Strength.” That is, maintaining peace by keeping our strength, not by enabling the enemy.
While it may appear humanitarian to “free all prisoners,” this perspective ignores the real threats terrorism poses to our nation’s safety and to the world. It compromises the rule of law and ignores the reason why the detainees are imprisoned in the first place: these enemy combatants either harmed or sought to harm innocent people. To free criminals intent on murdering innocent people, and claiming no responsibility for the resulting deaths, qualifies as the true action of inhumanity.
Since September 11, 2001, the United States has remained engaged in armed conflict with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and associated forces such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This stands as a fact, not simply a “perspective.”
As part of his constitutional role as commander-in-chief, the President has the authority to detain certain persons associated with terrorism. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from September 18, 2001 as explained by the White House fact sheet states,
“The AUMF authorizes the United States to detain certain persons who are part of or provide substantial support to al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. Decisions regarding the disposition of captured terrorists will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account legal requirements and the facts of each case.”
As such, the president remains responsible not only to manage the armed conflict between the U.S. and al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and ISIS, but to take actions which preserve the safety of American military members and civilians.
The executive order “would preserve military detention as a counterterrorism tool by maintaining detention facilities at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba and stating unequivocally that the United States reserves the right to detain terrorists under the law of armed conflict.”
While the U.S. currently utilizes counterterrorism tools such as military action and intervention, it must retain the right to detain enemy combatants. This stands in accordance with the law of war principles. Without the right to detain prisoners, the war on terror becomes a meaningless fishing expedition of “catch and release.” The White House fact sheet notes, “The detention of enemies captured in an armed conflict is a lawful and necessary tool of warfighting that must continue to be available to the United States.” The executive order also reaffirms the right of the U.S. to transport and detain more enemy combatants to Guantanamo when necessary.
More than one hundred former prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay have re-entered combat as terrorists, killing both American citizens and our allies in coalition forces. Keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open averts that risk, while prioritizing safety and security for innocent people who remain targets of international terrorism.
The executive order also emphasizes the use of the existing periodic review process which helps authorities to determine whether the continued detention of certain prisoners is necessary.
Finally, the order notes that “the detention operation at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay are legal, safe, humane, and conducted consistent with United States and international law.” The Guantanamo Bay detention facility abides by international legal standards which have been deemed both safe and humane.
President Trump’s executive order to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open allows the United States to act as a sovereign nation, capable of winning the war against radical Islamic terrorism worldwide. Without this counter-terrorism tool, victory will elude us, and innocent civilians will serve as terrorism fodder in the name of “peace” and “understanding.” The commander-in-chief understands this and has willingly acted to protect innocent civilians who are targets of terrorism in the United States and throughout the world.
Originally published on Patriot Post, February 8, 2018
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It is no secret that the modern college campus has become a place hostile to intellectual freedom. Trigger warnings, thought control, and speech laws have transformed what used to be places of learning into microcosms of ideological conformity. Students across the country have learned to conceal their thoughts, opinions and even questions in exchange for a passing grade. Acceptance by the group-think ruling elites, has begun to supersede the pursuit of knowledge, learning and truth.
The “right” to not be offended, has replaced the right to have an opinion differing from accepted academic dogma. Ironically, in a country founded upon freedom of speech and the value of the individual, many American universities function as independent totalitarian regimes with full rights to punish intellectual dissidents with lower grades. It is as if the American university has morphed into East Berlin, while the rest of the country lives in the freedom of West Berlin.
Restoring intellectual freedom to the university means examining the fault lines and courageously confronting them. In his book, The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom, National Association of Scholars President, Peter Wood, states, “…academic freedom is a combination of freedom from indoctrination and freedom to engage in disciplined inquiry, which includes the freedom to read, hear, and consider views that differ from those of their instructors.”
Academic freedom therefore consists of two things. 1) Freedom from indoctrination and 2) Freedom to consider other views. First, freedom from indoctrination means that professors should teach facts, not opinions. They should fairly represent all views. They should grade on basis of the quality of the student’s work, rather their own opinions. Professors should not take advantage of the youth and naivete of students in order to further their political aspirations to indoctrinate others.
Secondly, the students should have the freedom to consider other views and question presuppositions. Peter Wood describes this freedom as, “The freedom to ask questions; the freedom to challenge assumptions and doctrines; the freedom to criticize; the freedom to speculate; the freedom to re-examine old evidence and to search for new evidence; the freedom to express what one has found; the freedom to hear others who seek to express what they have found; the freedom to engage in dialogue with informed peers; the freedom to read and consider the views of people who lived before one’s own time; the freedom to teach what one has, by diligent effort learned; and even the freedom to refrain from speaking.” This type of freedom has traditionally made the university experience a unique time of life in which students take the time to reflect and ask questions. If academic leaders bar certain questions or conclusions, it compromises the pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking. It only encourages students to memorize and parrot facts, in order to stay safe and pass the class. In contrast, Peter Wood notes, “Intellectual freedom is the freedom of an individual to make up his own mind.”
Students also have a right to a third freedom: the freedom to learn without interruptions, disruptive protests, yelling, or having a student dominate the class discussion. Students must have the freedom to pursue their education and learning experience. When a university gives “freedom” to disruptive students on the basis of “freedom of speech, they actually deny the freedom of the other students to learn. Disruptive students perceive freedom as being the “right” to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they please. Yet this is not freedom, but rather, license. True freedom does not exist without responsibility. It is responsibility to oneself and responsibility to others. It was known in prior days as “civility.”
Peter Wood observes that the implementation of intellectual freedom ultimately depends upon the collective willingness of students, faculty and administrations to abide by the rules of civility. Such civility and mutual respect allows students the freedom to question, criticize, test new evidence and ultimately to learn.
Without an honest pursuit of intellectual freedom, we fail to shape students into responsible citizens capable of understanding and stewarding a free society. Transposing the totalitarian nature of some universities which bar speakers, and arbitrarily label dissident opinions as “hateful,” “insensitive,” “bigoted,” or “racist,” onto the rest of society, we see the inevitable thought-control bleeding into our culture. Yet, who decides the acceptable from the unacceptable speech? The loudest voice. The strongest voice. The most coercive voice. And this voice rarely reflects the voice of the people. It is therefore imperative that we restore intellectual freedom in higher education in order to preserve freedom for society itself.
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Originally published on Patriot Post, February 1, 2018