Written by Caitlyn Buckley
Megaphone A&E Editor
Hands down, Guantanamo Bay needed to close.
I’m pleased that we finally have a president that recognizes that fact and has already signed an executive order closing the prison down.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that those imprisoned there should have the opportunity to go on their own merry ways, but the way that the prison was handled since the War on Terror began crossed the line of human decency.
Almost 800 people have been detained in Guantanamo since U.S. forces entered Afghanistan in 2001, and more than 400 of those people have been released without charge.
Considering the fact that people are often detained without being formally charged, those released were more than likely completely innocent.
Currently, 270 detainees remain incarcerated. 54 of these have been cleared by the government but will remain indefinitely because countries are hesitant to accept them due to their current situation.
Out of all these detainees, there have only been three convictions: David Hicks for providing support material to terrorists, Salim Hamdan for being Osama bin Laden’s driver and Ali al-Bahlul for making a video celebrating the attack on the USS Cole.
Officials in the United States say that they plan to put 60-80 current prisoners on trial and free the rest. Some of these people have been held longer than seven years with no formal charge and often no incriminating evidence, which wasn’t how I thought the United States did business when I was a naïve young teenager.
When I started reading the news in high school, I was naïve no longer.
I was horrified to learn that our government was using “coercive management techniques” a.k.a. torture to try to obtain confessions or other valuable information.
Among these “techniques” are some that are copied directly from a Chinese Communist torture manual.
They include sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint, exposure to the elements, semi-starvation, exploitation of wounds and filthy surroundings.
Other common “techniques” that we hear about in the news are being subjected to blaring music and, of course, waterboarding.
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which the prisoner is immobilized and has water poured on their face so that they experience the same sensations as if they were drowning.
It has been used since the Spanish Inquisition as an admitted form of torture, so how did it magically lose this status when used by the CIA?
A journalist named Cristopher Hitchens voluntarily underwent waterboarding and later said, “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture. Believe me. It’s torture.”
It disturbs me deeply to know that my government is detaining people that could be innocent and torturing people to extract information, no matter how valuable.
I do believe that there are guilty people detained in Guantanamo Bay and I do believe that those who are guilty are, for the most part, horrible people that deserve to spend time in prison for their crimes.
However, I do not believe that torture is acceptable in order to extract a confession to lead to this time in prison.
I was just as devastated as anyone else on 9/11 and I’m not okay with the idea of anyone responsible for plotting or carrying out the attack, or any other attack against Americans or anyone else, going free. If anyone that is currently detained has been responsible for the pain, suffering or death of any other human being, they need to remain in custody, possibly for the rest of their lives.
They have committed an act that goes against human decency and for that I believe punishment is necessary so long as the punishment does not go against human decency itself.
Atrocities have been committed at Guantanamo Bay in the name of our country.
If my country stands for me, then this torture has been done in my name and I can’t stand for it or support it in any way.
I’m pleased we have murderers, terrorists and people who are dangerous to the happiness of humanity off the streets. We just need to send these people to a prison suited to detaining dangerous people of such a magnitude and start over on a new foot in acting as a country of civilized human beings.
Call me a hopeless idealist, but maybe, eventually, others will start to follow our lead.