The Advisor thought finally the President and I are getting comfortable talking about real issues. He has loosened up in the last few sessions. He knows I’m no threat and I won’t betray his candid responses to my questions. Hope he is in a talkative mood tonight. He should be here in another few minutes. I think he makes a real effort to be more or less on time and I appreciated it. He glanced up at the passageway monitor and saw the President and Chris approaching his door. Funny he has never commented on the wording on the old brass plaque. Even I don’t know its background. Maybe it is contained somewhere in the early journals. The only was to search them is to go thru them one by one. I just don’t have the time for that.
“Welcome Mr. President. Have you had a good day?”
“Can’t remember when. Everyday I get several problems that should never reach the Oval Office. I don’t know if some of my staff are afraid or just too limited to handle the problems on their own. The problems, or rather issues, that I handle always get some bad press. Fortunately I have very few consistent critics in the media. Some of them have gone out of their way to be supportive. Okay, you have some questions for me?”
“Yes I do Mr. President. Some of them are not important in the writing of history but I want to ask you why you did certain things that even your supporters do not seem to understand. My first questions is, why have you spent so much energy and time on closing Guantanamo Bay?”
“Well, the first thing is that I made a campaign promise to close this sore spot on our international record as a freedom loving nation. Gitmo is a prison and a place of torture. Students of international law believe it is a place that has no place in the twenty-first century. We can detain criminals in prisons in the Continental United States where my Attorney-General can protect their rights, examine the evidence, and bring them to trial under the American system of justice.”
“But, surely, there are cases when it would be appropriate to detain and try terrorist prisoners captured on the field of battle?”
“I just don’t trust the military to run trials of our enemies. Their rules of evidence, procedure, and concern for the rights of the accused do not meet my standards. I want America to look toward my leadership in prosecuting criminals, not the Pentagon.”
“We have both studied the law, both constitutional and international. Don’t you see the impossibility of collecting evidence, taking statements from witnesses and yet following the strict rules required by our courts regarding the chain of accountability and custody of evidence from the crime scene to the court room?”
“If we can’t get a conviction on the main charges, we’ll have to settle for prosecuting them for lesser crimes. If the military can’t or won’t meet the standards of American justice, they shouldn’t be conducting trials or detaining prisoners for years without charging and trying them.”
“Mr. President, there must be more than that.”
“Yes, in this room there is one more big one. Gitmo is a wonderful issue for me to use campaigning to attack conservatives. My base loves this issue. Elections are not won on facts. They are won by picking good issues and building them into major points. The time the conservatives spend defending Gitmo means they are playing by my rules and they can’t win. Take the Bergdorf guy who deserted his post and was held by the Taliban for years. He wasn’t important to anything, but he gave me a perfect opportunity to get five more top terrorists out of Gitmo. There was no other way I could justify their release. Who could argue sending those five criminals to one of the Gulf States for safe keeping. Who cares where they end up? Sorry I can’t continue but I must go. Thank you for the coffee and conversation. They were both good.”
As the steel door closed, the Advisor thought if you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question. This may have been one of those times. Absolutely scary. No one would believe what I just heard. Especially since his words had the ring of truth. Get ready for an Executive Order to give Guantanamo Bay to the Castro’s.
The above is a fictional account of a meeting that never took place, but it could have.
The author’s latest Jack Brandon novel, ISIS Quiet Justice, is available at your local book store and in ebook format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Follow the author on Twitter at @factsfictions80.