Seeds: Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is positioned on the southeastern tip of Cuba and is famous for its role in performing military tribunals and detaining and torturing terrorist suspects. In 1903, the United States leased 45 square miles of land and water from Cuba. In the early ‘90s, the base was a home for many immigrants from Cuba and Haiti seeking refuge from corrupt governments. It was not until the 9/11 attacks that the naval base was converted to a prison. After this, the Southern Command Joint Task Force Guantanamo was created to detain those convicted and suspected of being terrorists.
Core: For the past ten years, there has been a great deal of contention over the detention center located at Guantánamo Bay. Investigations suggest that the CIA used “enhanced interrogation methods” (torture) on its prisoners and found that some detainees were imprisoned without proper evidence. In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that detainees were entitled to certain protections under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which states that murder, torture, unfair trials, and cruel and/or degrading treatment are all prohibited. The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties that outline the proper treatment of prisoners of war, civilians, and soldiers. Before this ruling, the Bush Administration stated that the prisoners were not to be given rights under these conventions.
Skin: In 2011, more than 700 classified military documents were released via Wikileaks, which prompted thousands of articles condemning the treatment of the prisoners as well as the facility itself. Media coverage elicits an overall negative popular opinion of the camp; however, a 2014 surveys suggest that only about 29% of U.S. citizens polled wanted the detention camp closed.
Leaves: As of January 2016, 93 prisoners remain. The detention center remains open despite the public opinion because there are still detainees who must be prosecuted for significant war crimes (i.e. titled “High risk” and thus not fit for transfer). Military tribunals have been used in the past because the evidence needed to prosecute and detain many of the prisoners was too sensitive for public courts and could have compromised ongoing cases or active agents. That being said, there are many arguments in favor of closing the center, a popularly cited one being the violations of human rights committed at the base.
Food For Thought: Do you think that the CIA should be prosecuted for breaking the Geneva Conventions? Do you think that the detention center should close? Should the last 93 prisoners be released to other prisons? Do you think military tribunals should be allowed? Tell us what you think.
Think we missed something? Tell us in the comments.