By Julia Hotz
“Guantanamo Bay Controversy.” Google these three words, and there are news articles dating from 2002 up until fifteen minutes ago surrounding this topic. Though the debate over this issue has been around for most of our lives, discussion regarding the Guantanamo Bay controversy is often passed off in lieu of discourse on other hot political topics, such as the economy or the oil crisis.
So if you’re feeling a little out of the loop regarding this big issue, have no fear, you’re not alone! The Concordy has got you covered on the “who, what, when, and why” of the Guantanamo Bay Controversy.
Established in 2002 by the Bush Administration, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a detainment facility used to hold prisoners from both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. As it is located within the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, the Department of Justice ruled that the detention camp considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction. However, with this ruling came many questions. How much protection should the detainees be entitled to? Should this facility follow the agreements within the Geneva Conventions? Is this prison necessary, and if not, when and how will it shut down?
Shortly after Obama’s inauguration in 2009, questions regarding the closure of Guantanamo Bay arose. During December of 2009, President Obama began preparing for the transfer of prisoners to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. However, with strong encouragement from Congress, he signed the Defense Authorization Bill in January 2011. This document included provisions that prevented the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to mainland or any other foreign countries, ultimately preventing the closure of the facility.
Until I read about what happened in April 2011, I thought that Guantanamo Bay was just a prison camp, and did not understand what all of the controversy surrounding the prison was about. On the 25th of this past April, WikiLeaks, in addition to several independent news organizations, began publishing 779 of the formerly secret documents pertaining to assessments, memos, and interviewsmade at Guantanamo Bay. Written by the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo, these documents reveal that more than 150 Afghan and Pakistani natives were innocent, and were held for years without charge. Despite the innocence of many of these prisoners, there is strong evidence within these documents suggesting the detainees have been beaten and sexually assaulted.
Another key discovery made during the Guantanamo Bay files leak was that Al-Qaeda possesses nuclear capacity. Whereas more conservative media outlets, such as CNN, highlighted this fact and the “alleged terrorist activities of al Qaeda operatives,” liberal and foreign newspapers, such as BBC, took the WikiLeaks story as an opportunity to emphasize the unjust, oppressive actions interrogators took against innocent people.
Aside from being a huge moral debate in and of itself, the Guantanamo Bay detention camps and the subsequent file leaks are important issues because they further exemplify how “truth” is all relative in this country. Is the Guantanamo Bay detention facility truly an invaluable tool for our country’s safety, or is it another instance of concealed American injustice that won’t reveal itself until years later, like the My Lai massacre? I honestly don’t know what to believe.