Time to shut down Guantanamo
Since his very first days in office, President Barack Obama has made closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba a priority. Resistance from Congress has thwarted those plans, but Mr. Obama is making another go of it during his final year in office.
“For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security — it undermines it,” Mr. Obama recently noted in a White House address. “It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists, because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit. ... Guantanamo harms our partnerships with allies and other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism. When I talk to other world leaders, they bring up the fact that Guantanamo is not resolved.”
Government documents, media interviews with military sources with direct knowledge of the happenings at Guantanamo and information released through Wikileaks have validated these arguments. Moreover, these sources reveal that the detention facility was used to house hundreds of innocent people; torture prisoners through beatings, sleep deprivation, the notorious waterboarding and other methods; and confine detainees — even those determined to be no threat to the United States — for years on end without due process of law.
“An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that the U.S. wrongfully imprisoned dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of men in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments,” McClatchy concluded in 2008.
The facility once held nearly 800 prisoners, but the population has dwindled to 91, with 35 of those cleared for transfer into the custody of other nations and 10 others still undergoing military commission review.
There is no reason the remaining few dozen detainees cannot be housed in domestic maximum security prisons and tried in American courts, as has been done for terrorists like “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square.
The United States of America is a nation built on individual rights and the rule of law. No free society can tolerate indefinite detention, violations of habeas corpus rights, secret military tribunal proceedings or cruel and unusual punishment. The Guantanamo Bay detention camp has served as a black mark against a nation that professes to champion human rights for people around the globe. It should be shuttered so that we may begin to repair the damage it has done to our credibility.
Reprinted from the Orange County Register
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