With the recent and continuous exposure of the torture that goes on at places such as Guantanamo Bay, the reasons to shut down the facility seem to pile up.
Guantanamo Bay, or gitmo, opened up as a coaling station in 1903, and since then has transformed into a naval base/detention center utilized by American forces. It holds approximately 122 prisoners as of January 2015, 54 of which have been cleared for release, and 36 which lack the proper evidence to prosecute, but held regardless. It is home to some of the worst torture known to man, and some of the cleared prisoners still have not been released.
Almost eight years ago, it was this exact facility, a stain on American “justice,” that Obama said he would work on shutting down. Now in 2015, it is still open, and the graphic details of torture are being revealed. The torture is so bad in fact, that the CIA is actually trying to suppress the evidence.
What is unfair is the fact that these detainees are subject to various forms of torture, and are not guaranteed the same trial rights as guaranteed under international law. According to Amnesty International (if you were too lazy to click the link), “The US administration continues to pursue trials by military commission in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards. In some of these cases, the US administration is seeking the death penalty. To date, only one Guantánamo detainee has been transferred to the US mainland for trial in a civilian court.”
Without a fair trial, how can we be sure that we are rightfully detaining these people, which going by the American justice system, should be innocent until proven guilty? How can we guarantee basic rights when an executive order passed by Obama is simply hurting the legal rights even more so of detainees?
Furthermore, the financial reasons to shut down the facility are just as powerful as the human rights related reasons. To date, the United States, primarily taxpayers, have spent nearly $4.8 billion since 2002. Moreover, when looking at the approximate cost per detainee, that’s around $2.6 million. Per. Detainee. Why do we have to pay so much? Surely that money could be better utilized to fund programs and organizations in the US that are need of funding. It could also help us rebuild the nations we went ahead and screwed up with our intervention (to put it lightly). But of course, why spend money on anything we need, right?
What really irks me is that these detainees have been held for years on end, and some have even died there, from torture or reasons otherwise. Some are held indefinitely, and others have been released, although the pain and the scars both physical and psychological remain with them.
Some notable examples of detainees that are cleared for release but remain detained include David Hicks, Shakar Aamar, and many others (sorry I know I could’ve included more). These men (and women as well) have been so much as cleared for release, but remain in detention until who knows when. Contrary to popular belief, these detainees aren’t all even Muslim, nor are they all Middle Eastern. This then raises the question, if this is allowed to continue, who else will become a target, and why?
Despite all these reasons, Guantanamo Bay is still operating, and the fact that one human being can degrade and dehumanize another so horribly is still beyond my grasp. If we don’t close down the facility for the financial and legal reasons, can we not at least think of the 750 or so people whose lives and livelihoods we have destroyed since gitmo opened?
With every new detainee, every new life destroyed, there is another stain on America’s already soiled track record. With every denied trial and every indefinite detention, the future looks, quite frankly, rather bleak.