On CNN this afternoon, news of Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence—from jail time to parole and a fine—appeared on the main screen as the ticker tape below flashed news that one Guantanamo detainee had managed to get the charges against him dismissed. In the president’s explanation of his actions, Bush sermonized, “My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely…The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.” Images of Libby looking smug in a nice suit.
But what about the other detainees in Guantanamo? Many have been held for years only to be released with no charges against them. Unlike Scooter Libby, they were innocent. Unlike Libby, they served time. Their detainment was hardly cushy, as Mother Jones has reported. The Bush administration has failed even to take responsibility for the CIA’s abducting a Canadian citizen whose name resembles al Qaeda deputy’s and torturing him for months after they discovered the mistake.
Those held at Guantanamo have suffered from vision impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious mental health disorders, not to mention that their reputations—down to and including their identification papers—have been destroyed. Oh yeah, and their wives and young children have suffered immensely.