IN 2002, the Bush regime set up a primitive prison camp at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Over six years they held 776 men there without charges, using what they called “enhanced interrogation” and the rest of the world calls “torture.” Bush called these men “the worst of the worst,” though most had been turned in for $5,000 cash bounties the U.S. paid, and had no connection to attacks on the U.S. An international outcry brought about the release of more than 500 of the prisoners.
Torture is a war crime, and a crime against humanity.
International and U.S. law prohibit torture, under any and all circumstances, without exception. If we fail to hold our government and its officials accountable for the American torture state they have constructed, we are condoning that torture and it will continue to occur.
The systemic abuse witnessed at Guantanamo is sustained by a culture of impunity. High government officials responsible for wars of aggression and conspiracy to commit torture walk free, unrepentant and boldly advocating for more of the same.
Why is Guantanamo still open?
And what can we do to close it?
Evidence against some prisoners is tainted, usually because of a tortured confession. There is no legal way to get a conviction. Political calculation notwithstanding, in a free and just society, anyone detained by the government must be charged and given a fair trial, or released. And that won’t happen by the secret military tribunal system that President Obama has established to replace real justice.
The U.S. commander-in-chief has authority, independent of Congressional approval, to close the hated prison camp with the stroke of a pen. It’s up to us to make that happen.
On January 11, 2016, the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo will have been open 14 years.
One of Obama’s first acts as president in 2008 was to order closure of Guantanamo within one year, leading most people to think the terrible practice of preemptive incarceration without trial is over. But it isn’t.
105 men are still held, 46 of whom are cleared for release. They suffer the Obama administration’s policy of indefinite detention. An unknown number of hunger strikers are being force-fed in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
The closure of Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp can’t wait. The abomination of U.S. torture must not only end; the rationale of “exceptionalism” — that American lives are worth more than others — must be repudiated.
Guantanamo: how will WE be judged?
Our government has done its best to hide the torture practiced at the experimental off-shore prison camp and forestall any attempts at accountability for the perpetrators and enablers of those crimes. But thanks to a courageous and ongoing hunger strike by prisoners, Obama was forced to condemn extrajudicial punishment.
Protestations of executive “my hands are tied” impotence are no longer plausible. It is up to us to demand closure of Guantanamo and repudiation of the lawlessness exhibited there.
When IGNORE–ance = death, silence is not an option
“The president knows that Guantanamo is wrong, legally and morally,” says Wells Dixon, senior attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, who has represented clients at Gitmo since 2005. “But the failure to ensure accountability for the sins of the prior administration is like trying to avoid treatment for mental illness with the hope that it will go away,” he says. “The more you ignore it, the more it comes back to haunt you.”
The President and Congress have responded to prisoner demands with callous disregard for basic legal and human rights. Murder by neglect… is this the end of the line? Will people living in the United States accept this version of history? Or will we step up to the task at hand and close down Guantanamo once and for all?