Guantanamo: Ten Years Later
Tomorrow Guantanamo turns 10, and all over the country protestors plan to mark the day with calls to close the prison center. In particular, activists will travel from around the United States to Washington, DC, for a rally and human chain meant to stretch from the White House to the Capitol.
In the last 10 years, nearly 800 detainees have entered Guantanamo. Now roughly 600 have been released; and as of 2009, only 4% “returned to the battlefield,” according to the Pentagon’s numbers.
In all the madness that is our War on Terror, we seem to have lost that beautiful virtue called empathy. I have read reports trying to prove Guantanamo is so humane that authorities provide ice cream, Skype calls, and La-Z-Boy chairs, but these damn terrorists still throw their feces.
What these reports don’t discuss are the numerous accounts of torture (verified by US officials), the pain of missing the first 7 years of your children’s lives, or the inability to get a job once you’ve returned to your homeland, innocent or not.
I don’t know about you, but if a foreign country took me from the United States without any charge and detained me indefinitely, then denied me access to visitors, attorneys, a trial, or even a chance to know evidence against me, I would be throwing my shit too, to say the least. And ice cream wouldn’t appease me, either.
What saddens me the most about this (maybe – so many things about it make me sad) is that a lot of the innocent detainees assumed at the beginning that they were safer in the hands of Americans than anywhere else. In America – they often report after they’ve been released – they believed they would get a fair trial and be quickly freed.
So it’s taken us 10 years or less to undo a reputation that took centuries to build through Civil Rights marching and Bill of Rights signing.
When President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012, he effectively closed the door to closing the door on Guantanamo. Regardless of his campaign promises, we continue to detain prisoners there without trial.
To be clear, I don’t know or care how dangerous these suspects are – I really don’t. We’ve tried many a serial killer and unabomber through our system. The fact that even the really bad dudes deserve a fair trial is one of the foundational principles of our country.
We pay through every taxed dollar and vote at every election for this system of ours. Now we have the chance – the privilege – to fight for civil rights all over again, with the fury that gave us our reputation of being just and free.
(Photo by mike.benedetti)