Git out of Gitmo

June 30, 2007, midnight | By Kevin Teng | 17 years ago

Closure of detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay is crucial

White House officials have been discussing the prospect of closing the detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay – an interrogation and holding facility for suspects of terrorism. Last Friday, they finally acknowledged that this issue has become a priority.

But this realization has taken our government far too long. The administration has finally realized that the existence of Guantanamo Bay has created negative influences on public opinion that makes the benefits for national security seem insignificant.

Detainees wait in a holding area at Guantanamo Bay. Photo courtesy of MSNBC

For months, activists have bombarded the administration with heavy criticism about the legality and morality of the detainment facility. Former detainees have reported inhumane treatment at Guantanamo Bay, known by many as "Gitmo." Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the existence of Camp X-Ray, a nickname for the detainment facility held in Guantanamo Bay. The groups have said that the Guantanamo detainment facility is comparable to the Soviet Union's Gulag prison camps.

These criticisms stem from the allegation that detainees in Gitmo are tortured and detained for too long based on insubstantial evidence. If these allegations are true, the United States would be in violation of many international human rights protocols.

While the Defense Department's Office of Military Commissions' chief prosecutor Morris Davis stated in an opinion piece that culturally appropriate meals and literature, as well as outdoor time, are offered to detainees, he and the government seem to be missing the basic point – basic human rights. Detainees should not be kept in such a facility in the first place.

Davis also reasons that hearsay, testimony about other people that is not based on personal knowledge, is legal at Guantanamo because "a ban on hearsay is not an internationally recognized judicial guarantee." However using hearsay goes against ideals of equality, especially since these "international" war tribunals are conducted privately by the United States based on weak suspicions, and courts inside the U.S. normally ban the use of such testimony. The fact that these detainees are being tried on weak evidence that has been coerced from them or thought up as hearsay is a blatant insult to the justice system in the United States and to the international community.

Even the United Nations has criticized the camp, saying that the suspects need to be tried and cannot be held indefinitely because doing so violates the United Nations Convention against torture. The United Nations has tried to gain access to the detainment facility to interrogate detainees about their treatment, but have failed to do so because the administration did not meet minimum requirements for such interrogations.

European leaders have joined the United Nations in denouncing Gitmo and have urged for its immediate closure. Last year, the European Parliament voted in favor of a motion that urged the United States to close Guantanamo Bay once and for all.

By keeping Guantanamo open, the United States is defying the international community, saying that we believe in arresting people overseas and trying them here on weak suspicions and using international law as a guide only when as we wish. The United States is not allowing any international intervention and disregarding international opinion.

Kevin Teng. There are some things in which people believe. Some people believe in other people. I believe in meatloaf. I believe that we all should have fun eating whatever meatloaf we want to eat. Sorry, that was "Harold and Kumar"-esque. Life is pretty good because I'm … More »

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