On April 16, 2021, 24 senators signed a letter to President Biden asking for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, calling it a “symbol of lawlessness.” In a country that was founded on liberty and justice for all, the United States government needs to practice what they preach and close this despicable prison camp.
Guantanamo Bay was established in 2002 in response to the terror attacks on September 11. It is a detention center stationed in Cuba meant to hold terrorists and dangerous prisoners, the majority of whom are from Afghanistan, followed by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and more. With an entire population horrified by terrorism and fearing more to come, the US government was able to engage in a myriad of human rights abuses in the prison with inpunity. Beatings, sexual abuse, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding were just a few torture methods used (under the flowery term “enhanced interrogation”).
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there have been 779 prisoners at the camp since its creation, with 21 of them being children under 18. Over 200 FBI agents reported abusive behavior at Guantanamo Bay. 9 people have died, 7 of them by suicide.
And it gets worse.
Naturally, information like this doesn’t paint the US in a good light, which is why the government refused to comply with an Associated Press Freedom of Information Act request until they were forced to. We learned that most detainees were sold to the United States for bounties, with some ranging from as low as 3,000 dollars and some in the millions. Most of these men weren’t given a fair trial or even charged for a crime.
Not to mention that some of these people are innocent.
“There are still innocent people there,” ex-Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson told the Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years. [Many detainees] clearly had no connection to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wilkerson elaborated.
Unsurprisingly, the abuses at Guantanamo Bay have been heavily criticized by the United Nations. They violate the Geneva Convention and the US Constitution.
“The United States must clean up its own house. Impunity only generates more abuses as States do not feel compelled to stop engaging in illegal practices,” said United Nations Human Rights Experts.
Guantanamo Bay is not just a symbol of lawlessness. It’s a symbol of ideological hypocrisy. One of the cornerstones of our country is the right to a fair and speedy trial. These detainees have been deprived of not just their 6th amendment rights, but their humanity. Just because the prison is over 1,500 miles away doesn’t mean they should be held to a different standard.
Right now, there are 40 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. President Joe Biden has talked extensively about “healing” our nation. If he wants to act on his promise, he should listen to these senators and heal our country’s old wounds.