The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Guantanamo Bay: Open indefinitely

The current presidential election cycle is a pleasant reminder of many hot-button issues that we are either tired of hearing about or issues that are not heard about enough.

Eschewing the former for the sake of saving readers from monotony, I want to concentrate on the latter.

In particular, candidates’ handling of Guantanamo Bay is something that I believe is important to understand in the coming election.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Center is a military prison and interrogation facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, used by the U.S. military to house those captured in both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was opened in 2002 by the Bush administration and was deemed outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions by the Department of Justice soon after.

As a black mark on the U.S. human rights record (there are far more than we care to admit), it really deserves close scrutiny and persistent protest in the name of human rights.

I feel it necessary to remind everyone that President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay within the first year of his presidency, which he failed to do. In fact, not only did he fail, but he didn’t even attempt to close it. The political capital was spent (I almost wrote wasted) on healthcare reform.

Not only is Guantanamo still open, but the power of the U.S. government to do as it pleases without any care for basic human rights has been extended.

With the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the executive branch can hold prisoners in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without trial. While the executive branch claims that it had this power with the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a joint resolution made under the Bush administration, the act shows congressional support for this power.

Only during an international armed conflict can individuals (domestic or foreign) be detained if they pose an imminent security risk. Human Rights Watch claims that an “international armed conflict” is a war between states, which the current conflict in Afghanistan is not, at least not anymore. Since a new government has been put in place with Karzai, the detainees should not be prosecuted under military law, but domestic or international human rights law.

There is no end in sight for the detainees. The Obama administration seems nowhere close to returning detainees to their countries of origin for trial and processing. Furthermore, protection from torture, cruel, unusual or degrading punishment is not guaranteed in Guantanamo.

Though the Obama administration no longer claims that we are in a “global war on terror,” the increase of drone strikes in multiple countries seems to indicate that they are still acting as if we are.

If the U.S. government still considers itself in international armed conflict, which would have to be defined as between any international entity, not just another nation, such as a terrorist organization, then it may believe it has ground for this indefinite detention. The idea is that as long as there is war, there can be detention of prisoners. If we are in an indefinite war, then there will be indefinite detention.

Michael is a sophomore majoring in philosophy, political science and English.


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