A recent NBC News story is a grim reminder of a chapter in this nation’s history that we prefer not to read. It tells about a recent death at the Guantanamo detention center where more than 200 prisoners remain 10 years after their capture as suspected (but not proven) terrorists. The story begins:
A Guantanamo detainee who died Saturday was a former hunger striker who had recently been placed in a disciplinary cell after splashing a guard with a “cocktail”– typically containing urine, a U.S. military official tells NBC News.
In itself the news is grim, especially since it was reported only because guards at the facility were concerned that word would leak out and their eyes would be even blacker. But not only their eyes but this nation’s eyes are blackened by the very existence of this facility where men are kept in stark conditions and denied the fundamental right of every human being to trail by jury.
We recall that President Obama promised that he would close the facility. It was a promise made, I dare say, without knowledge of the implications of such a step. Once elected he quickly came to realize that the closing of the facility and moving the prisoners to a secure facility in the United States and trying them in a civil court would prove difficult at best — especially with a Congress that was only interested in resisting every step the new President attempted to take.
But the fact remains that the prison remains open and men are still held in captivity (excuse me, “detained”) even though they have not been tried and found guilty. A brief look at Obama’s attempts to close the facility is instructive (as quoted from Wikipedia):
On January 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an order to suspend the proceedings of the Guantanamo military commission for 120 days and that the detention facility would be shut down within the year. On January 29, 2009, a military judge at Guantanamo rejected the White House request in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviews how America puts Guantanamo detainees on trial On May 20, 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90-6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. President Obama issued a Presidential memorandum dated December 15, 2009, ordering the preparation of the Thomson Correctional Center, Thomson, Illinois so as to enable the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners there. The Final Report of the Guantanamo Review Task Force dated January 22, 2010 published the results for the 240 detainees subject to the Review: 36 were the subject of active cases or investigations; 30 detainees from Yemen were designated for ‘conditional detention’ due to the security environment in Yemen; 126 detainees were approved for transfer; 48 detainees were determined ‘too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution’.
[Footnotes in the original article]
Needless to say, the detainees were never transferred to a facility in this country as the Congress simply will not allow it. The United Nations has sought to have the facility closed to no avail. And other nations have been harsh in their judgment of our treatment of these men, calling it a form of “torture” and a violation of human rights — pointing out that we are in violation of the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Whether we agree with these criticisms or not, we must agree that this entire venture is something we cannot be proud of and would rather it had never happened — though “In a February 2012 poll 70% of Americans (53% liberal Democrats and 67% moderate or conservative Democrats) replied they approve the continued operation of Guantanamo.” If the poll is to be believed, it is even more embarrassing than the fact that the facility remains open.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Note the word “all” not “all of a particular country”.
Yes, I note the absence of a qualifier. The U.S. has managed this thing very badly.
Man, why would the public EVER support that?!
I was stunned by the numbers and can only hope they are a mistake!
THIS is why I don’t watch the news. Argh!!! Stuff like this seriously depresses me.
Very sad indeed.
Lis, It depresses me too. But it is important that we know what is going on around us, so I trudge ahead! Thanks for the visit.
Guantanamo puts on on an even footing with the bad people and the bad countries. Personally, I think we’re better than that, but there are many in this country who apparently like us to be down there with the dreggs of the world.
Yeah. What happened to the moral high ground that MLK talked about?
I’m not sure politicans have morals, even Mormon politicians……..lol
My Economics 301 professor at Texas A&M University was a Dr. Phil Gramm. You might recognize the name.
He had a tenured professorship that paid him about $100,000 a year, not to mention great state health benefits and an unbelievable pension. He voluntarily gave it up to go into politics, first as a state representative, then a U.S. Congressman, and then a U.S. Senator.
He retired in 2002. Newspaper reports indicated that he retired with $64 million in his “campaign war chest.” He got to keep it all. That’s when I really understood why rich people (Romney, for example) get into politics. They don’t have to work like the rest of us do, and if they can be successful at not working, they’ll retire with a great pension, great health care, and millions of dollars in their campaign war chest.
We need to be better than this. Unfortunately we are not.