Should the U.S. government close the
Guantanamo Isn’t Accomplishing Its Alleged Aims
It has also damaged U.S. hopes to build a global anti-terror alliance.
appalling record, the best
way that the U.S. government could mark its sixth
anniversary would be to close it.
Guantanamo is not just a location;
it is an approach to a culture of lawlessness that should end.
Guantanamo’s remaining defend-
ers label the detainees “combatants,”
and argue that they can and should
be held until the conflict they were
fighting is over. the truth, however,
is that most detainees were picked
up far from any battlefield. many
of them were arrested by police,
just like other criminal suspects, in nature—often outdated, often ‘ge- their own statements.
places ranging from Karachi, Paki- neric,’ rarely specifically relating to Besides concern for basic princi-
stan, and Cairo, egypt, to Bangkok, the individual subjects ... or to the ples of fairness, there are strong prag-
thailand. they were not wearing circumstances related to those in- matic reasons for closing Guanta-
uniforms; nor were they carrying dividuals’ status.” And even worse namo. Given the arbitrary nature of
weapons. How can they be deemed from the standpoint of fairness, the detentions at the facility, Guantana-
combatants without being granted proceedings relied extensively on se- mo’s reputation has badly damaged
a fair opportunity to challenge the cret evidence, putting detainees in U.S. moral authority, endangering
evidence against them? the impossible situation of rebutting international cooperation in fight-
the tribunals that purported to evidencethat they werenot allowed ing terrorism. A recent poll of for-
assess detainees’ combatant sta- to see. Coerced statements—even eign policy experts carried out by
tus were a sham. Lt. Col. Stephen e. those obtained by torture—were The Atlantic magazine found that 87
Abraham, who served as a member used against detainees and, like all percent of those polled agreed that
of one of these tribunals, has said of the government’s evidence, pre- Guantanamo was harming global ef-
that the tribunals seemed designed sumed to be “genuine and accurate.” forts to defeat al-Qaeda.
to rubber-stamp the detainees’ prior Furthermore, detainees could not be Detainees in Guantanamo have
designation as combatants. As Abra- represented by lawyers, and in most been arbitrarily held and denied
ham has explained, the tribunals re- cases were not able to produce any basic due process rights. In some
lied on intelligence “of a generalized witnesses or evidence apart from cases, they were subject to torture
(ContInUeD on PAGe 22)