The general who set up the prison at Guantanamo Bay says it’s about time that we shut it down. It’s interesting to see how much he’s flipped sides on the issue, and how willing he is to admit that the prison was opened out of fear– a fact that everybody should know. The United States was extremely scared after 9/11, and we acted as a nation who’s extremely scared would act by jumping to extremes. We failed to realize that the interrogation strategy largely seems to fail and that there would be negative perceptions of us throughout the world by opening the prison. Hopefully the government will also flip sides on the issue and start to understand exactly why the prison needs to be shut down.
This seems like a pretty important question– if the prison continues to cause problems for the United States and has almost no benefits (see this post and this post) why hasn’t it been shut down, especially since President Obama has openly supported closing down the prison?
The answer is simple– political opposition. There’s almost no political support for closing down the detention facility (and an incredibly high amount of political opposition) from the Republican party (and from some democrats). That makes closing the detention facility incredibly difficult– Congressional opposition to a presidential action makes it incredibly difficult for the action to occur.
It’s unfortunate– the prison certainly needs to be closed down. But it probably won’t happen anytime soon, especially considering the current Congressional climate.
Guantanamo just celebrated its 12th year anniversary of being open yesterday. I wrote a post about Guantanamo about a month ago, but I’ll reiterate– it’s time to shut down Gitmo.
The article cited above makes a couple really good arguments– the most convincing one is the sheer lack of success in the prison. Of all 779 prisoners, only 7 have actually been convicted of providing support for terrorists. That’s an incredibly low success rate– less than 1%. That clearly makes the prison incredibly unsuccessful and practically useless. The article also indicates that of the other 772 prisoners, of the ones who were a part of terrorist organizations, their detainment in Guantanamo meant that they could never be put on a military trial.
Along with being a massive waste of effort, Gitmo is a massive waste of money. The article cited above also indicates that over the last 12 years, we’ve spent almost $5.25 billion on the prison total. It costs roughly 75 times the amount of money spent on federal prisons. Our economy is clearly still in an awful situation– spending less money on an ineffective prison would be an excellent way for the United States’ government to cut costs and save some money.
I’ve made a couple other arguments in a previous post about why we should close down Gitmo as well. It’s time for it to end.
For those of you who don’t know, Guantanamo Bay is an indefinite detention facility the federal government created after 9/11 in Cuba in order to interrogate suspected terrorists. This article, starting from about half-way down the page, cites the numerous examples of psychological and physical trauma that these prisoners are forced to go through on a daily basis. I definitively agree with the cited expert, Andy Worthington, that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should be shut down.
For starters, torture is morally repugnant. The severe psychological trauma induced from things like repetitive water-boarding, sexual assault, and other disgusting acts are human rights abuses and mentally destroy the person being tortured. The people living in Guantanamo Bay aren’t really living– they may continue to breathe, but they only exist to be tortured and have their psyches decimated. It’s atrocious.
Second, It’s illegal. Like, really really illegal. The Geneva Convention clearly indicates that torture is never okay, even upon enemy combatants. Thus, the United States, the arbitrator of international human rights and law, has been violating ILaw for the last 10 years. Being contradictory isn’t just annoying. It directly contributes to preventing the US from stopping other regimes from doing really bad things (page 13 to be exact; this article only talks about Russia, but other actors, such as China and Iran, have justified some bad policies because we violate ILaw). We are directly contributing to the destruction of the Rule of Law.
Third, we don’t even know that the detainees in the facility are terrorists– in fact, of the 166 detainees still at Gitmo, 50-60 of them have already been cleared for release. That means that even if torture is justified to get information out of the prisoners (which it’s not), the torture policies that we implement are largely ineffective. And even if everyone in the facility were terrorists, torture doesn’t work— besides the reasons cited in that link, there have been numerous instances of people admitting to doing something they didn’t do in an effort to stop being tortured. This false information prevents us responding accurately to a new terrorist threat that we tried to stop before.
It’s time that we closed down Gitmo.