Will Barack Obama be able to close the notorious prison camp at Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office early next year? He may want to--as was stated by his Vice President Joe Biden one more time in Sweden today--but will Congress allow him to do so? Further, will Obama be able to muster the courage to oppose Congress and end the barbaric practice that has sullied America's already tarnished reputation?
Washington DC, crescent-online.net
Thursday August 25, 2016, 13:49 DST
In one of their periodic pronouncements American officials make about closing the notorious military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, US Vice President Joe Biden added his voice to it today (Thursday August 25). He was on a visit to Sweden following his one-day sojourn to Turkey where he tried to sweet talk the Turks into believing the US was not behind the July 15 coup.
Biden told a news conference that he expected Gitmo, better known as the torture chamber, would cease operations before President Barack Obama leaves the White House early next year. “That is my hope and expectation,” he said.
During his election campaign in 2008, Obama had pledged he would shut it down. Once elected, one of his first announcements after being sworn in as President in January 2009, was to pledge that he would close it within one year. Nearly eight years later, Gitmo is still operational.
Its population has declined from 774 inmates in 2004 at the height of America’s hauling of alleged terrorists from around the world, to 61 prisoners today. Located on the illegally occupied Cuban island of Guantanamo Bay, the prison was opened in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 attacks. Then President George Bush and his notorious Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed it was for prisoners that were “the worst of the worst”.
Few if any of “the worst of the worst” were ever convicted even by the kangaroo military courts set up at Gitmo. Inmates were mercilessly tortured including sleep deprivation for prolonged periods, held in extremely stressful positions, sexual abuse, and of course water-boarding.
Earlier this month, 15 prisoners that had been cleared for release more than six years ago, were transferred to the United Arab Emirates. Others have been shipped to Eastern Europe. Most of the prisoners were Yemenis, Afghans or Saudis.
Not one Afghan was ever convicted of any wrongdoing although the US and its allies destroyed the country and it remains under US occupation.
Obama has said he would like to close the facility by bringing the remaining 61 inmates to maximum-security prisons inside the US. The move is blocked by US Congress where members continue to spout venomous allegations against completely innocent people.
Congress also opposes releasing prisoners to their own countries claiming they will return to militant activities. Brutalizing them and holding them illegally is sure to make these men return to militancy to exact revenge from the US, if they could.
It is not cheap to run Gitmo. The Pentagon says Gitmo and its associated military commissions cost $445 million in fiscal year 2015. That means each of the nearly 60 prisoners left at the facility cost more than $7.4 million per year.
When American officials claim these people hate them for their values, there is some truth to it. If torture, sexual abuse and water-boarding are American values, then yes, these people do hate America for indulging in such practices.
If Americans want to be loved, all they have to do is improve their manners a bit. Is that asking too much?