Hungry For Freedom In Guantanamo http://bit.ly/11LzLwo The Guantanamo Bay prison is a glaring manifestation of the political indecision which the United States has experienced since President Barack Obama’s first day in office. While his second term is unlikely to deliver much of the “change” he had so industriously promised, skeletal men continue to sink into utter despair at the American gulag at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Many, if not most of the 166 people currently imprisoned in Guantanamo are innocent – even by the standards of the US government as it continues to violate the Geneva Convictions and US laws regarding prisoners’ rights during armed conflicts. In fact, 86 of the Guantanamo detainees have been designated forrelease, but lack of resolve on the part of the administration, obstacles by Congress and a general lack of interest in the plight of these men, has left Guantanamo a human-rights abomination that is still open for business 11 years later. In a Speech on August 1, 2007, Obama, then a senator, laid out a moral framework for his views on inhumane travesty. “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values,” he said. His conduct of later years as president however didn’t reflect an unyielding desire to break away from the legacy of his predecessor. The administration of former President George W Bush had capitalized on the fear and anger produced by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, instituting the type of injurious policies that not only undermined the US constitution, but also furnished a platform for global lawlessness. Never before had international law been as devalued as it was during the Bush years. Even men who were entrusted with insuring the upholding of the law, worked diligently to undermine it. Former attorney-general Alberto Gonzales, a personal friend of Bush, mastered this art of legal manipulation in a way that allowed his bosses to adorn their gratuitous actions with the air of legitimacy. Guantanamo was his ultimate masterpiece. But Obama appeared adamant in ending the Guantanamo era, although it merely exemplified US official detestation of human rights and international law that guarded them, as demonstrated from Abu Ghraib in Iraq to Bagram in Afghanistan. On January 22, 2009, the newly inaugurated Obama, armed with a significant popular mandate, signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility within one year. The wording then reflected the new impetus to reclaim the country’s squandered values, or so it seemed. Today, however, they ring with familiar hollowness, as many of Obama’s many other pledges do. His action then was meant to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism”. In actuality, Obama’s truism was an attempt to catch up with the expectations of a frustrated public and a Supreme Court ruling (Hamdan vs Rumsfeld) on June 29, 2006, which entitled the Guantanamo detainees to protection under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. It goes without saying that the quest to shut the Guantanamo prison down would have been dropped completely from media or government calculations if it were not for the indefatigable efforts of many human-rights campaigners who continue to demand the government to do the right thing. Obama, at least for a while, gave every sign that real action was underway. On December 15, 2009, he sought to replace Guantanamo with another maximum security prison in Thompson, Illinois, and to transfer the prisoners into the mainland where due process would then apply. Congress, however, empowered by the rise of an extremist right-wing outfit, the Tea Party, seemed in no mood to allow for any radical shift away from Bush’s abhorrent policies. As his first term in office proved, Obama was not ready to use the political capital…

Advertisements