Guantanamo Bay has been a subject of controversy since its re-opening in 2001, especially since the promise of its closure by President Barack Obama in 2009. Guantanamo Bay lies in the brutal lands of Cuba but is owned by the United States, its obtainment dating back to times of Cuban-American relations in the early 1900s. Guantanamo is meant to house prisoners who are “considered unlawful enemy combatants in the newly christened “war on terror” (NYTimes). While the opening of Guantanamo was an effort to fight terrorism, problems remain in the cost of maintaining this war prison, the actual affiliation each prisoner has with terrorism, and in the time it takes for these criminals to be processed from Guantanamo bay.
Only 169 prisoners remain in Guantanamo Bay as of right now, a large decrease in the 779 prisoners it has had since its opening. Six hundred prisoners that found themselves in Guantanamo Bay at one point have been transferred to the custody of other countries, most of which were the prisoner’s home countries since the U.S. no longer found these prisoners to be a danger, and eight died while in the hands of Gitmo. Since its opening, 38 prisoners have been declared “no longer enemy combats”; in other words, we made a whoopsie. In 2002, the war with Afghanistan ended, losing any justification to keep Guantanamo open. And according to the United States government, 92% of Gitmo detainees were never Al Qaeda fighters.
More disturbing than the inaccuracy of the convictions is the time it takes for a Guantanamo prisoner’s voice to be heard. According to amnesty.org, “it took six-and-a-half years of detentions at Guantanamo before the US Supreme Court ruled that the detainees had the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in US federal court”. While held in custody waiting for their slowly moving trials, prisoners are known to be physically harassed and tortured by guards.
“Muhammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi citizen who is alleged to have been implicated in the September 11 plot, was physically and mentally mistreated from mid-November 2002 to early January 2003. For six weeks, he was intentionally deprived of sleep, put into painful stress positions, forced to stand for long periods, and subject to sexual and other physical humiliation. He was refused trips to a latrine, so that he urinated on himself at least twice. He was also threatened with forced enemas, and on one occasion was subjected to one.”
Where is this “secret evidence” that the government has that justifies spending $139 million per year on an offshore prison? According to Findlaw.com, “Many detainees were picked up in Pakistan, often being sold to American troops for a bounty”. The fact alone remains: Guantanamo was chosen by the Bush administration because they didn’t think it would lie under the constitution’s jurisdiction, but it does. And now that the US public knows what’s going on, we’re not pleased.