FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Guantanamo Remains a Global Symbol of Injustice

by

Just before Christmas, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis visited troops at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. This visit came after recent United Nations reports of torture there, but Mattis insisted he was only going to meet with the troops to thank them for their service. Pentagon spokesperson Major Ben Sakrisson confirmed that Mattis would not inspect detention facilities or discuss detainee policy.

Wouldn’t the Secretary of Defense be interested in the conditions of the world’s most infamous prison? Wouldn’t any CEO of his/her organization want to know what is happening on the ground, face to face?

It has been 16 years since another secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, visited GITMO, and since that time close to 800 prisoners have been held at the facility; 731 of these detainees were released without charges; 15 of them were children under the age of 18; and nine of them have died by suicide or other causes. According to Human Rights Watch, of the 41 detainees that remain at Guantanamo only seven—Abd-al-Rahim al-Nashri, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi and five September 11, 2001 co-defendants—face any formal charges.

Again, considering the facility’s history of torture, arrests without charges, locked up juveniles, and deaths of detainees, wouldn’t Mattis want to give the place a good look through? Or does the secretary not want to know what goes on there?

The fact remains that Guantanamo Bay is still one of the most effective propaganda tools in the world for militant Islamic fundamentalists. The maximum security prison, based in Cuba, was set up by the Bush administration in January 2002, in response to the attacks of 9/11.

But as former president Jimmy Carter has stated, “What has happened at Guantanamo Bay … does not represent the will of the American people.” He added: “I’m embarrassed about it, I think it’s wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use despicable means to hurt innocent people.”

President Barack Obama made this case in even stronger terms. “I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength,” he said in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. “We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.”

Along with Carter and Obama, the majority of Americans know that keeping GITMO open is tactically misguided and blatantly immoral. Americans know that it gives terrorists an opportunity to say, “Why can’t we torture? You do.” And “Why can’t we hold prisoners without charge? You do.” It makes our entire constitutional system of due process look ridiculous.

After 16 years, why have we failed to muster the moral and political courage to shut down this global symbol of evil?

George Cassidy Payne of Rochester, New York, is a freelance writer, adjunct professor of philosophy and domestic violence counselor.

 

More articles by:

George Payne is Director of Gandhi Earth Keepers International and Philosophy Instructor at Finger Lakes Community College.

January 18, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
John W. Whitehead
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
Andrew Day
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals
Dave Lindorff
Rep. Gabbard Speaks Truth to Power About the Real Reason Korea Has Nukes
Barbara G. Ellis
The Workplace War: Hatpins Might Be in Style Again for Women
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Sickness in May’s Britain
Ralph Nader
Twitter Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
John G. Russell
#Loose Lips (Should) Sink … Presidencies … But Even If They Could, What Comes Next?
David Macaray
The “Mongrelization” of the White Race
Ramzy Baroud
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence
January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail