Defending the Rule of Regulation Requires Ending Guantanamo Detention

On Jan. 6, President Joe Biden publicly commemorated the 1-12 months anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, expressing: “This is not about getting bogged down in the earlier. This is about making absolutely sure the previous isn’t buried. That is the only way ahead. Which is what good nations do. They don’t bury the truth. They deal with up to it.”

Quite a few of us commemorating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention facility right now could not agree a lot more.

Industry experts have thoroughly documented the challenges at and proposed solutions to Guantanamo. In 2021 on Just Stability by yourself, writers have documented several scenarios of torture, highlighted the grave due process issues, designed the nationwide security case for closing Guantanamo, and recognized how the Biden administration could appropriate the United States’ position on Guantanamo instances. Civil modern society leaders – which include at Amnesty International, the place I perform – have furthermore called for closure of the prison and supplied enough tips for how that could be completed.

But the United States seems to have assumed a collective amnesia when it arrives to Guantanamo.

The navy jail at the U.S. naval foundation in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was opened 20 a long time ago nowadays for the reason of detaining individuals suspected of hyperlinks to the 9/11 assaults and trying to keep them over and above the access of U.S. law. The Bush administration even built up a new title for them – “unlawful enemy combatants” – to deny them the protections of the legislation of war. Extrajudicial detention at Guantanamo has now been likely on for so lengthy that there is an overall generation for whom it has normally existed. Some young grownups serving in the armed forces now were being born soon after detention at Guantanamo commenced. Nevertheless the abuses and illegality at Guantanamo have mainly been relegated to a qualifications challenge of U.S. coverage, hardly ever bundled in politicians’ lofty pronouncements about the rule of law.

Practically 800 Muslim adult males and boys have been detained at Guantanamo in excess of the very last 20 yrs. Almost none of them experienced everything to do with the 9/11 assaults. Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Guantanamo right now. Most have even now not been charged with a crime.

The United States brutally interrogated and tortured detainees at Guantanamo. Abuses integrated slumber deprivation, extended solitary confinement, light and audio manipulation, publicity to extreme temperatures, sexual harassment, threats of rape, threats with canines, bodily beatings, “stress positions,” and religious abuse these kinds of as mocking the call to prayer and abuse of the Qur’an. Quite a few detainees had beforehand also been tortured in mystery CIA prisons with techniques together with waterboarding. These steps blatantly violated both U.S. and worldwide law, and have left indelible scars, like critical extended physical and mental health and fitness challenges for numerous of the detainees. Still, U.S. officers who prepared and oversaw these actions have by no means been held accountable.

This may well all appear to be like old record, but for the 39 men nonetheless imprisoned at Guantanamo, 27 of whom have under no circumstances even been charged with a criminal offense, it is an ongoing, every day, flagrant abuse of their human legal rights.  The U.S. govt would surely condemn any other country that engaged in indefinite detention with no demand or trial for two a long time.

Guantanamo was created by government motion, and it can be shut down by the president, also.

Biden has said he wishes to close the jail. Again in 2009, as vice president, he explained to an audience at the Munich Safety conference, “We will uphold the legal rights of those people who we carry to justice. And we will near the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.” But due to the fact getting office, Biden has barely acknowledged the prison’s ongoing existence and has never ever fully commited to any timeline for closing it.

Administration officers have proposed they have to have cooperation from Congress, but the President is aware that’s not the circumstance. Nationwide security specialists and advocates have submitted in-depth suggestions to the president and his advisors detailing the techniques they can acquire to near it down, a lot of of which Just Stability writers previously analyzed in this article. None of them call for motion by Congress. All of these actions can be taken now.

Alternatively, the Biden administration is paying out tens of millions of pounds expanding Guantanamo’s facilities. Include that to the much more than 50 percent a billion dollars previously used yearly to maintain the jail open, and Guantanamo is probably the most pricey prison on earth.

Speaking from the Capitol creating on the 100th day of his presidency in April, Biden lauded the “extraordinary courage” summoned to protect it on Jan. 6 and asked: “Can our democracy supply on its assure that all of us designed equivalent in the image of God have a opportunity to direct life of dignity, regard and possibility?”

The continued indefinite detention of Muslims with out cost or demo at Guantanamo flies in the confront of any guarantee of “dignity, respect and possibility” the United States might hope to present. President Biden ought to summon his individual political courage to set an finish to it.

Guantanamo has world implications: the United States’ persistent indefinite detention of uncharged males in an offshore jail functions as a standing invitation to other countries to comply with in those footsteps.  And Guantanamo supplies an simple retort to world leaders criticized by the United States for their possess human rights records. We also know it’s also been featured in propaganda by al-Qaeda and other non-state armed teams looking for to recruit new associates.

More than a ten years back, former President George W. Bush acknowledged that “the detention facility experienced develop into a propaganda device for our enemies and a distraction for our allies,” and really should be closed.  A broad vary of national protection leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have for quite a few many years agreed.

Although Biden, in withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, has been keen to place the endless “war on terror” powering him, the ongoing existence of the Guantanamo jail and indefinite detention without demand of 39 Muslim men stands as a evident impediment: an enduring symbol of discriminatory regulation enforcement, Islamophobia, and flagrant disregard for intercontinental human rights.

The storming of the U.S. Capitol and disinformation about almost everything from vaccines to the integrity of our elections are no question vital matters, but the U.S. government’s determination to truth, legal rights, and rationality are unable to be selective. For U.S. leaders to credibly argue that regard for the rule of legislation and equivalent rights are required on other problems, they will have to also regard the exact same ideas when it arrives to Guantanamo.

As Biden place it on January 6: “We are in a battle for the soul of America.” There is no sound, legal rights-respecting, and truthful reason to maintain the Guantanamo Bay prison open up outside of this tragic 20th anniversary. Biden should exhibit his commitment to the values he professes by closing it now.

Impression: Demonstrators dressed in Guantanamo Bay prisoner uniforms march previous Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 9, 2020. (Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Illustrations or photos)