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Patricia DeGennaro Headshot

Good Riddance Gitmo!

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I am absolutely shocked by the number of people who are expressing reservations about closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. It is astounding that any American would prefer to leave 245 individuals in prison despite the fact that many of them could be innocent.

Kidnapping, incarcerating, and torturing individuals is a crime. Americans who value freedom and the rule of law must take responsibility for those who they have rounded up, put in prison and mistreated without any proper due process under the legal requirements of this country and international law.

Treatment of detainees has been in question since the first day this prison was open. Finally, after almost seven years, Senator's Carl Levin and John McCain conducted an inquiry and released a report about these concerns.

Their report "concluded that the authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques by senior officials was both a direct cause of detainee abuse and conveyed the message that it was okay to mistreat and degrade detainees in U.S. custody."

Senator McCain said, "The Committee's report details the inexcusable link between abusive interrogation techniques used by our enemies who ignored the Geneva Conventions and interrogation policy for detainees in U.S. custody. These policies are wrong and must never be repeated." Unfortunately for all of us, "candidate" McCain, a torture victim himself, back peddled under the pressure of the Republican party refusing to back his own findings, even though he too agrees with the professional research that torture does not work.

In Darius Rejali's Washington Post article, 5 Myths About Torture and Truth, he reminds us that there is no evidence that inflicting unbearable pain on other people produces 'information' that is in any way shape or from valuable to the interrogator. At the end of Rejali's article he quotes a CIA officer who says, "The larger problem here, I think is that this kind of stuff just makes people feel better, even if it doesn't work."

Stuff? Is that what waterboarding is? Just stuff? How about putting hoods over people's heads and making them pile on each other naked like they did at Abu Ghraib? Is that also just stuff? Outrageous! Stuff. It is outright torture - full stop. Until we stop trying to convince ourselves otherwise, we are no better than the criminals.

Unfortunately, the US has a history of making messes while ignoring consequences. US CIA officers trained and armed many of the warlords and Taliban loyalists our soldiers are now fighting in Afghanistan. Charlie Wilson and his war ironically left the likes of Mullah Mohammad Omar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Jalaluddin Haqqani behind. Not one of them or even Osama bin Laden are in US prisons. Most are young kids who either got caught in the roundup or decided to fight against an invader not knowing the true reason for the fight.

There are absolutely individuals there that are guilty members of Al Qaeda and Hekmatyar or Haqqanis insurgent armies. Remember though they are interned by the American government so each and everyone must be treated under the legal proceedings of the United States of America. It does not matter who they are, it matters who we are and what type of life we want to create for all citizens of the world.

The US signed the Geneva Conventions and this country should stand by them. Moreover, the US Supreme Court voted twice declaring confinement without Hebeas Corpus is unconstitutional. The US put these people in a camp and the US is responsible for them.

We must all stand up and demand that our country abide by our own laws. Courts must give these individuals a fair trail under the constitution of the United States. If they are guilty, they get sentenced, if not they must go free. No rendition either.

True these individuals may indeed be a risk after all many have been tortured. Therefore the US should immediately set up a court of reparation. Wronged individuals deserve justice and we Americans must ensure justice is done.

Closing Guantanamo will not be easy, but if American values are true there is no other choice. Our leaders say that "America does not torture." Well it is up to all of us to ensure that this remains true.

The best way to begin is by saying good riddance to Gitmo.