Yesterday, protesters “from Kuwait to the Cuban countryside” marked the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees to Guantanamo Bay. “The track record of the United States detention program at the Guantanamo Bay naval base can be summed up quite simply: five years, zero convictions.” “More than 770 captives have been held there since then, of whom 10 have been charged with crimes.” “Instead of advancing American security,” Human Rights First said on the anniversary, “the abuses of Guantanamo have stained America’s reputation for justice, fairness, and transparency.”
As Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch said, “It’s time to close Guantanamo.”
- Previous Guantanamo hearings were a sham. The government is spending millions of dollars to build new facilities to hold hearings for detainees. However, there is little evidence the trials held in the new facility will be any better than previous hearings in which the government “called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men…were ‘enemy combatants.'” A report by Seton Hall University law professor Mark Denbeaux found the “government did not produce any witnesses in any hearing” and in “91 percent of the hearings, the detainees did not present any evidence.” “No American would ever consider this to be hearing,” Denbeaux said, “This is a show trial.”
- Accusations of past Guantanamo detainee abuse continue to come out. The Washington Post reported recently that “FBI agents witnessed possible mistreatment of the Koran at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including at least one instance in which an interrogator squatted over Islam’s holy text in an apparent attempt to offend a captive.” In other incidents, “interrogators wrapped a bearded prisoner’s head in duct tape ‘because he would not stop quoting the Koran'”; another interrogator ‘dressed as a Catholic priest before ‘baptizing'” a detainee. The AP reported, “Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement.” The Marine described practices such as “hitting the detainee’s head into the cell door” and “punching [them] in the face.”
- Guantanamo is further tarnishing our international image. Leaders from around the world are calling for the camp’s closure. “I think it would be better if [Guantanamo] was closed for all the reasons that we have given over a long period of time,” Tony Blair said. “If you just look at how we are perceived in the world and the kind of criticism we have taken over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions, whether we believe it or not, people are now starting to question whether we’re following our own high standards,” former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in September. “We’ve lost a generation of goodwill in the Muslim world,” the former director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program said. “Because of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other abuses we have lost on the concepts of justice, fairness and the rule of law, and that’s the heart of the American idea.” (Even Vladimir Putin, not exactly role model on protecting human rights, said this week he hopes Russia “will never have a Guantanamo.”)
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