Close Guantanamo—Then Give It Back to Cuba

By Amy Goodman

gitmogoodman_590

This week marks the 13th anniversary of the arrival of the first post-9/11 prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, the most notorious prison on the planet. This grim anniversary, and the beginning of normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S and Cuba, serves as a reminder that we need to permanently close the prison and return the land to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. It is time to put an end to this dark chapter of United States history.

“The detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable,” President Barack Obama wrote nearly six years ago, in one of his first executive orders, on Jan. 22, 2009. Despite this, the prison remains open, with 127 prisoners left there after Kazakhstan accepted five who were released on Dec. 30. There have been 779 prisoners known to have been held at the base since 2002, many for more than 10 years without charge or trial. Thanks to WikiLeaks and its alleged source, Chelsea Manning, we know most of their names.

Col. Morris Davis was the chief prosecutor in Guantanamo from 2005 to 2007. He resigned, after an appointee of George W. Bush overrode his decision forbidding the use of evidence collected under torture. Davis later told me, “I was convinced we weren’t committed to having full, fair and open trials, and this was going to be more political theater than it was going to be justice.” Obama did create a special envoy for Guantanamo closure, although the person who most recently held the position, Cliff Sloan, abruptly resigned at the end of December without giving a reason. In a just-published opinion piece in The New York Times, Sloan wrote, “As a high-ranking security official from one of our staunchest allies on counterterrorism (not from Europe) once told me, ‘The greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism is to close Guantanamo.’”

The U.S. has imposed a crushing embargo against Cuba for more than half a century, ostensibly to punish the small country for its form of governance. What kind of alternative does the United States show Cubans on that corner of their island that the U.S. controls? A hellish, military prison beyond the reach of U.S. laws, where hundreds of men have been held, most without charge, and many beaten and tortured.

Advertisement
President Obama rightly chastises Egypt for imprisoning three Al-Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. “They should be released,” Obama told reporters last August. Yet, sadly, Egypt only needs to look to the U.S. to determine acceptable treatment of Al-Jazeera journalists. Sami al-Hajj was a cameraman for the network. He was covering the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when the Pakistani military picked him up and handed him over to U.S. forces. After 17 brutal days at Bagram Air Field, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he was held without charge for more than six years. He was tortured, beaten and humiliated. Al-Hajj went on a hunger strike for 480 days, and was subjected to forced feeding through nasal tubes. He was released in May 2008.

I sat down with Sami al-Hajj in December 2012 at Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar, where he was heading the network’s Human Rights and Public Liberties desk. He said the U.S tried to coerce him into spying while he was imprisoned:

“They [offered] to give me a U.S.A. nationality and take care about my family if I work with them in CIA to continue my job being journalist with Al-Jazeera, just send them information about the link between Al-Jazeera and al-Qaida and the terrorist people and some people in the Middle East. Of course, I refused to do that. I told them, ‘I’m journalist, and I will die as a journalist.’”

The United States knew he was innocent, but wanted him to spy on Al-Jazeera, so it subjected him to years of harsh imprisonment in an attempt to break him?

The United States took Guantanamo Bay by force in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, and extracted an indefinite lease on the property from Cuba in 1903. Returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba will begin to right more than a century of wrongs that the U.S. government has perpetrated there. Most importantly, the return of the Guantanamo Bay prison and naval base will make it harder for any future war criminals, whether in the White House, the Pentagon or the CIA and their enthusiastic cheerleaders in Congress, to use Guantanamo as their distant dungeon, to inflict torture and terror on prisoners, many of them innocent, far from the eyes of the people of the United States, and far from the reach of criminal courts.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

35 thoughts on “Close Guantanamo—Then Give It Back to Cuba

  1. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my web site thus i came
    to “return the favor”.I’m attempting to find things to improve my site!I
    suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  2. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
    Extremely helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info
    much. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  3. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  4. Hi! I know this is somewhat off topic but I
    was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  5. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!

    It’s the little changes that produce the biggest changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that
    it is really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels.
    I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  7. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform
    you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding
    between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  8. It is perfect time to make some plans for the long run and
    it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this post and if I
    could I wish to counsel you some attention-grabbing things or tips.
    Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I desire to read even more things approximately
    it!

  9. I always used to study piece of writing in news papers but now as I
    am a user of internet so from now I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  10. Thank you, I have recently been looking for info
    approximately this subject for a while and yours
    is the best I have discovered till now. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain about the supply?

  11. It’s genuinely very difficult in this busy life to listen news on TV,
    so I only use world wide web for that purpose, and get the hottest information.

  12. I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  13. I am really impressed together with your writing skills as well as
    with the structure on your weblog. Is that this a paid topic
    or did you modify it your self? Either way stay up the nice
    quality writing, it’s rare to look a nice blog like this
    one nowadays..

  14. Actually no matter if someone doesn’t understand after that
    its up to other users that they will assist, so here it occurs.

  15. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  16. Just wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is simply excellent and that i could suppose you’re an expert in this subject.
    Well along with your permission let me to grasp your RSS feed to keep updated with drawing
    close post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  17. It’s going to be finish of mine day, but before ending I am
    reading this great piece of writing to improve my knowledge.

  18. Quality articles is the key to be a focus for the people to pay
    a visit the web site, that’s what this website is providing.

  19. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide
    credit and sources back to your website? My blog is in the very same
    niche as yours and my users would really benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Cheers!

  20. hello!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.