“Time. We can’t get it back. When it’s gone, it’s gone,” notes Frida Berrigan, WagingNonviolence.org, on the return of Connecticut National Guard soldiers from Guantanamo. “I am always happy when families are reunited, but the words of another father reuniting with his children rang through my head.” (Repatriated prisoner Shaker Aamer met his 13-year-old son Faris for the first time on October 31, 2015.) “All those innocent men released from Guantánamo and still struggling to find their footing in strange lands—and still struggling to heal from severe trauma—know it too.”
What happens when you don’t deal with the crime of indefinite detention? 800 years of Habeas Corpus law, the right to know why you are being held captive by the State, comes undone. We witness no savior from the Democratic Party. It’s up to people living in the United States to resist and mobilize to stop impunity for extrajudicial punishment of the disenfranchised.
Deferring responsibility for the closure of Guantanamo, on an arbitrary timetable, to President Obama has prolonged the misery of illegally held prisoners, and festers further debasement of human rights. It implies legitimacy for the lawless practice of military tribunals employed to sidestep due process. The Periodic Review Boards instituted by Executive Order 13567 on March 7, 2011 enable a legal limbo for victims of warrantless prosecution.
Behind the razor wire on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, 91 men remain locked up. They’re known to military personnel as “The Leftovers.” A handful use hunger strikes to protest the continuing torture of illegal incarceration.
“I think the troubling thing is the fact that it has been made arguable or is able to be debated, still has in part to do with the fact that there has been zero accountability for torture under the Bush administration. And that’s been something that has been—you know that falls on the Obama administration,” says Pardiss Kebriaei, Center for Constitutional Rights. “The Obama administration’s own plan for closing Guantánamo envisions maintaining the policy of indefinite detention. So part of the danger of that is that it allows for things. It allows for the policy and legal justifications to remain open, and would allow for a place, whether in Cuba or in a U.S. prison, for future administrations to send additional detainees to.”
Crimes are Crimes, and they’re not OK when Obama commits them.