Over the last decade The United States of America has been fighting an ongoing battle, a battle between guards and detainees, the pentagon and its own lawyers, the war on terror and the US Constitution, and finally a battle over national security and liberty. This is the battle of the Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center. Over the span of three presidential terms our government has been flip-flopping and changing its stance on Guantanamo Bay and the issues surrounding it.
Although there are hundreds of issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay the three most recognizable issues are those of interrogation methods, detainees rights and trials, and the overall closing of the facility. The overall main problem within our justice system is the inability of our government to come up with a permanent solution, one way or another, for what will become of the Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center and the issues surrounding it.
By discussing the facts of such controversies, and analyzing both parties perspectives on them, I will create not only, what I believe to be is a fair solution in regards to each controversy discussed, but I will also create a distinct, permanent, and final solution for what should become of The Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center and the detainees being held there. In order for us to fully understand the issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay we must first understand the history of the facility.
The 45 square miles of land located on the southeastern part of Cuba that is now know as Guantanamo Bay, was originally leased to The United States of America is 1903 for $4,085 a year. On September 11, 2001 by 10:00 o’clock a. m. two airplanes had purposefully flown into The World Trade Center buildings in New York City, and one into the Pentagon building in Arlington County Virginia. The former President of The United States George W. Bush recalls how he felt that day by stating, “I remember thinking the first plane was likely an accident, the second plane was an attack, and the third plane was the declaration of war. Just 20 days after the terrorist attacks on our country President George W. Bush stood in front of Congress and declared war against the terrorist group know as Al-Qaeda, and on terrorism itself. In October 2001 the United States military and the military of Great Britain attacked Afghanistan’s Taliban government who were harboring members of Al-Qaeda. The Unite States and allied forces moved across the country rounding up and interrogating suspected terrorist.
On January 11, 2002 The United States Department of Defense announced that they would use the land in Cuba to create a “detention facility for suspected terrorist who were captured during a time of war,” and the first set of detainees where imprisoned and questioned there. The issue of interrogation is by far the most disputed issue that surrounds Guantanamo Bay. Again, in order to fully understand this issue we must first understand the history of it. August 2002, the Bush administration narrowed the United States definition of torture to allow for previously illegal interrogation techniques to be used as a matter of interrogation.
This definition authorized prolong isolation, stress positions, sensory deprivation, removal of clothing and in some cases waterboarding. The Bush administration also classified the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as “enemy combatants who did not fall subject to the rights provided to prisoners of war as stated in the Geneva Convention. ” As former President Bush stated, “These are people picked up off the battle field in Afghanistan. They weren’t wearing uniforms, they weren’t state sponsored, and they were there to kill.
These terrorists that we have obtained from the battlefield will be classified as United States enemy combatants. And so we said that they don’t apply under Geneva Convention, but they’ll be treated in according to the Geneva Convention. ” In 2003 attorneys in the pentagon moved to stop what they called torture at Guantanamo Bay, and 2003 the Supreme Court ruled that the actions that happened in Guantanamo Bay were in fact torture and they must be stopped. However, according to the Wikileak documents and stories from over the years the interrogations did not stop.
The issues of interrogation essentially comes down to, does The United States have the right to completely ignore an individuals right as a human being, in order to help with national security? The definition set forth by the Geneva Convention of torture is, “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession. ” In addition the Geneva Convention requires, “humane treatment of any and all captured solders and civilians detained in wartime,” torture was prohibited.
However on the flip side of the coin how are we supposed to gather information from terrorists? Ask them nicely and hope that they tell us everything they know? As British citizen and Guantanamo Bay detainee from 2003-2005 states, “There are two types of torture, physical and mental. Physical torture with light and sound, the tying of hands and feet in certain ways, that’s rough. However, mental torture is 10 times worse then physical. I spent two years in solitary confinement…I was nobody, I didn’t exist…I begged for death daily…it is completely inhumane. Also according to Khalid Al Unzi, “It was crazy they laid me on a table and beat me in ways that you can’t even imagine. They gauged my right eye so badly that I am now blind as a result. They did all of this just to try to get me to confess to being a terrorist. ” However, Brian Ross, ex CIA agent and now CIA analyst, has this to say when it comes to the issue of interrogation. Ross argued by saying, “The CIA broke 14 top Al Qaeda leaders that they have kept in GBay and other secret prisons using these methods of interrogation.
The worst, and most rarely used, interrogation technique was waterboarding. It is very intense and very tough to withstand, when the CIA operatives experience it themselves before they are considered trained operatives with regards to waterboarding most of them couldn’t last 25-30 seconds. ” This quote brings up a great point; the individuals who are preforming these interrogations on suspected terrorist are highly trained professionals. These individuals know exactly what they are doing and how far to push the people they are interrogating.
Ross goes on to say, “Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, was very tough, they actually threatened do to something to his children who were captured in the course of picking him up. Mohammed’s response reportedly was “Fuck you! That’s ok they’ll see Allah sooner. The CIA operatives got him on the table and 2 minutes later he sang like a bird. ” This quote brings up another great point. These people are terrorist and murders; they are not going to tell you everything they know just because you ask them nicely.
In addition to Ross’s statements, Guantanamo Bay’s head of interrogation Paul Rester stated, “First of all absolutely nobody, 0, people have been killed or even came close to death as a result of the interrogations that we have done here. All of the detainees have intelligence value, possessing that knowledge would be useful to national security. It could easily contribute to one day saving a life. In fact, as a direct result of the interrogations we received information of more then a dozen Al Qaeda plots to kill people. Due to the information the peratives got from the interrogation we were able to stop those plots and save lives. ” The subject of “torture” is a very tough one for me to judge. On one hand it is totally inhumane to ever torture a person for information. However, on the other hand the people conducting the interrogations are trained professionals, and the people they are interrogating are terrorist who may have information on future terrorist attacks towards our country. In addition we have sufficient evidence that shows that other countries treat American war prisoners much worse then we treat them at Guantanamo.
I believe in order to solve this problem of interrogation, we should in fact allow the interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to use any means necessary of obtaining information that is vital to national security. The second biggest controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay is whether or not the individuals detained there have the rights to a federal trial, as well as if they are protected under the rights and liberties of the United States Constitution in general. In order to understand the circumstances of this situation we must first understand the difference between a military and federal trial and the history of this controversy.
In 2004, two years after the Guantanamo Bay Detainment Centers were opened the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to the rights and liberties of the Untied States Constitution. This ruling allowed more then 400 detainees to petition in the federal courts of the United States invoking the rights of habeas corpus. As retaliation, on November 10, 2005, U. S. Senate voted 49-42 to approve the Graham Amendment, which does not give the detainees the right to file habeas corpus petitions, and the detainees will be tried by a military commission and not in federal courts.
This indecisive flip-flopping and changing of the rules causes nothing but aggravation and stress on the people of the United States. It also makes us look weak, indecisive, and bad in the eyes of the rest of the world. On June 29, 2006 the Supreme Court rules 5-3 that the military commission system for Guantanamo Bay violates U. S. and international law, and the detainees cannot be tried in such a fashion. However, even with the Supreme Courts ruling, the Bush administration passed a law through Congress that did in fact allow for the detainees to be tried in military courts.
Fast forward to November 2009, and the new President Barack Obama says that all detainees will have federal trials, and in addition he stated that 4 of the 9/11 conspirators to be tried in New York. Move to March 7, 2011 and the government then changes its stance yet again on the Guantanamo Bay detainees saying, “The detainees held at The Guantanamo Bay Detainment facilities will in fact have military trials and not federal trials. ” However if you look on the white house official website it states, “The United States mission is to bring detainees to justice in prosecutions in the federal civilian courts of The United States of America. Before we can discuss what the correct course of action for the trials of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay we must first understand the differences between a military trial and a federal trial. Federal cases, which are tried in federal courts, are required to have full disclosure of court documents, court proceedings, search warrants, and evidence. The prosecutors are permitted to speak openly with the press about civilian cases. In military courts, restrictions to the public are placed on all types of documents and evidence pertaining to the case.
Judges are given the power to deny the public’s access to military cases if it protects the rights of the accused. Prosecutors must gain permission from the judge to speak to the press. In federal cases, a grand jury, composed of jury members, is used to decide if there is enough evidence in the case to go to trial. The military uses something called an Article 32 hearing. The hearing is composed of an investigation officer, who makes the decision of whether the case should head to trial. In addition, the methods of interrogation used at Guantanamo Bay will never hold up in a federal court resulting in the case being dismissed.
However, in a military court they are more lenient towards how confessions and statements were obtained. In my opinion I believe that the proper solution for this situations would absolutely be to have the JAG lawyers trial the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in a military court. It makes absolutely zero sense to bring these terrorists, some who have already said that they are guilty, to The United States of America and try them on our soil. As captain Patrick McCarthy who is the chief naval lawyer at Guantanamo Bay stated, “There were no habeas corpus rights for German soldiers during World War 2, period.
The detainees held here should never get access to courts. The cons way out the pros tremendously. ” I personally agree with this statement. What good does it serve to bring a potential terrorist to US soil and try him? The United States federal courts were made for American citizens not terrorist. Not to mention, some of the people they want to try have already pleaded guilty. These people are going to make their trial not about whether or not they killed, but about how The United States treated them badly.
Giving the detainees a federal trial essentially creates a world stage that makes America look bad. Also, this would force the United States to publically disclose confidential information that is related to national security to the world. Even if we forget about the fact that it costs the country millions of dollars in security to try these people in a federal court it is still a terrible idea. Another controversy that surrounds Guantanamo Bay is whether or not we should close the facility all together or leave it open and operating.
In 2008 President Barack Obama promised several times during his campaign that he was going to indefinitely close Guantanamo Bay. When inaugurated into office one of the first laws that the President passed was the law to close Guantanamo Bay. As the President stated when signing the bill, “Guantanamo Bay will be closed no later then one year from now. And so it is. ” However, on May 20, 2009, President Obama passed an amendment to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
In addition, on January 7, 2011, President Obama signed the Defense Authorization Bill, which places restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland or to other foreign countries, thus impeding the closure of the detention facility. The biggest problem with closing Guantanamo Bay is, where are you going to put all of the prisoners who are currently locked up there? On December 15, 2009, the President ordered the preparation of the Thomson Correctional Center, Thomson, Illinois so as to enable the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners there.
However that idea quickly caused tension within the citizens of The United States because they did not want to bring the terrorist to our country. After compiling all the evidence, and reading the testimonies from detainees and guards, I strongly disagree with the President in the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay current houses 167 high-valued terrorists. We provide these terrorists with the religious reading of their choice, food and water, a library, world newspapers, and we resulting just installed a soccer field for them to use. It would greatly jeopardize American security to bring said detainees to United States soil.
In addition we have tried to make trade deals for almost all of the detainees to be sent back to there own countries, except even their own countries don’t want these people living there. There is simply no better place for these people to be then where they are right now. In conclusion the Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center has cause a tremendous amount of stress and aggravation on this country over the last 10 years. It is absolutely ridiculous that are government has flip-flopped and changed its mind so much about what should be done about the issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay.
The solution that I am proposing would be for the next President of The United States to pass a law that will once and for all close the discussion about Guantanamo Bay. This law should state that the interrogators who work at Guantanamo Bay should be able to use the methods of interrogation approved by the Bush administration on suspected terrorist, it should state that the detainees in Guantanamo Bay will be tried only by military commission, and it should state that Guantanamo Bay will continue to stay opened and operational for the future years.