Why We Must Close the
By Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet
That description can be traced to January 2002, when the base received its first 20 prisoners in shackles. General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned they were "very dangerous people who would gnaw hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down." We now know that a large portion of the 750 plus men and boys held there posed no threat to the
The Guantánamo story starts in 1903, when the U.S. Army occupied
In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a new treaty with
It is no accident that President George W. Bush chose
Although the Convention Against Torture, a treaty the
Australian lawyer Richard Bourke, who has represented many of the men incarcerated at Guantánamo, charged that prisoners have been subjected to “good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages.” According to Bourke, “One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed.” Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, an Afghan who was released from Guantánamo in April 2005, said he suffered "indescribable torture" there.
The very existence of the Guantánamo prison camp harms
The list of Guantánamo critics is a long one. Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed it a stain on the character of the
In addition to legal and political problems with Guantánamo, there are enormous human costs to consider. Attorney Joseph Margulies has been to death row in six states and watched his client be executed. But as he noted, "I have never been to a more disturbing place than the military prison at
Indeed, Army Col. Terry Carrico, the first warden at Guantánamo, complained that when he was there, the men were held in “basically outdoor cages,” adding, “It’s what you would normally find in a veterinarian’s facilities to hold animals.” Carrico said “very few” of the men imprisoned during his tenure had useful intelligence. He favors closing Guantánamo, but doubts that will ever happen.
President Barack Obama said a year ago that he was committed to closing Guantánamo because it was a symbol that was “probably the No. 1 recruiting tool” on terrorist websites. But Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which bars any transfer of detainees to
In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Harvard lecturer Jonathan M. Hansen wrote, “It is past time to return this imperialist enclave to
Obama should heed Hansen’s words. For the abiding presence of the Guantánamo gulag is not simply illegal and immoral. It also continues to be a symbol of
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs