Ten years ago this week, the United States opened a detention facility at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Since that time, the name “Guantanamo” has come to be associated both in the United States and around the world with torture, lawlessness, indefinite detention, violations of civil rights, violations of international law, and abuse of power. The facility has been open for ten years now, but unfortunately, as Dahlia Lithwick noted this week in Slate, “It’s hard to say anything new about 10 full years of Guantanamo, beyond the fact that most of what we wrote two, four, and seven years ago still holds mostly true.”
As David Cole recognized in the New York Times:
'The existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.’ So said President Barack Obama in 2009, defending his promise to close the prison camp there. He is hardly the only one to hold the view that Guantánamo undermines our security and should be shuttered. Former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, and Senator John McCain, all agreed that the United States would be better off without Guantánamo. Few images do more to serve Al Qaeda’s interests.There were hopes that the United States could remove this stain on its national character. Unfortunately, Congress has imposed restrictions on detainee transfers that have made it much more difficult to turn the page on this sad chapter in American history.
The United States was founded on a set of principles, and those principles are challenged every day by the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay and by everything Guantanamo Bay has come to represent. Serious accusations have been made that torture was commonplace at Guantanamo, and Alliance for Justice has long advocated for greater accountability for those who legitimized torture at such facilities. We have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a full investigation of those who authorized torture.
This facility has been allowed to remain open for an entire decade. It must not remain open any more.