Guantánamo Bay is a disgrace to humanity. It should be closed yesterday, as it flies against everything humanity believes in terms of justice. If it remains open, it should be filled up with all the sold-out morons in Congress and in the Senate. Also, every president since JFK, and their extended families, should be sent there for crimes against humanity. And it does not belong to the USA, as it is located in the territory of a sovereign nation, Cuba. Yankees go home mofos!
Torture is not acceptable. Are we not sick and tired of these pathetic cowards that believe otherwise? And these cowards are in the US congress and the Senate. Pathetic human beings.
Shut down your churches and your universities USA, as you obviously do not pay attention to truth and ethics. The world is getting sick of your lies and propaganda USA.
John Oliver examines the legal and moral issues surrounding the military prison at Guantánamo Bay.
President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba has been heralded as a “new beginning” for Washington and Havana. The American embassy in the Cuban capital has been reopened, and travel restrictions for US citizens are being relaxed. But despite their so-called “thaw”, the US’s relationship with Cuba is still deeply tangled. It has been since the 19th century – and central to the two countries’ ugly history is Guantánamo Bay.
La Bahía de Guantánamo is a saltwater lagoon 40 miles to the east of Santiago de Cuba. Before 1492, Puerto Grande, as Columbus named the bay, was productive hunting and fishing ground for the indigenous Taínos and their predecessors. Since there are no defensive bluffs at the harbour entrance, the Europeans did little to develop the lagoon beyond building villages and the nearby town of Guantánamo.
Things began to change as Cubans fought for independence from Spain in the wars of 1868-1878 and 1895-1898. The US was never going to stay on the sidelines; while a proposal to annex Cuba was rejected in Congress, US senators followed events in Cuba very closely and provided material support to the rebels.
In February 1898, the USS Maine, deployed to quell a pro-Spanish conspiracy, exploded in Havana harbour, killing nearly 300 men. Blaming Spain for the explosion, the US entered the war to assist the Cubans in their struggle for independence. Guantánamo Bay was captured in June 1898, a naval base was established, and the US fleet found hurricane shelter in the bay before invading Santiago that July.
The Spanish were defeated by the combined US and Cuban forces, and the new republic’s constitution was drawn up to hand over control from the US military governorship. This control was only partial: an amendment drawn up by Senator Orville Platt was inserted into the constitution, stipulating not only tight trade and economic regulations and the US’s right to intervene in Cuban affairs, but also the leasing of four coaling and naval stations – including Guantánamo Bay.
The Platt Amendment details complete jurisdiction of the US in those locations while recognising Cuba’s “ultimate sovereignty”, and stipulates the right to use the areas only as naval stations and for no other purpose. The lease is also predicated upon the continuing agreement of both parties.
These three stipulations have caused trouble ever since. Many Cubans, especially marginalised non-whites, were bitter that Spain had simply been replaced by a new imperial force, albeit managed through the “sovereign” Cuban republic. This led to an uprising across the island in 1912, put down brutally by police, military and local militias who feared a black revolution – “another Haiti”.
The US stationed more than 1500 marines in Guantánamo and Santiago to help quell the uprising and to protect US interests. The military presence remained in Guantánamo long afterwards, outlasting various Cuban leaderships.
In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt cancelled both the 1903 Treaty of Relations and the Platt Amendment under the so-called “Good Neighbour Policy”, and a new agreement was signed in 1934 outlining the continuation of the original Guantánamo Bay lease. Expanded during World War II, the site became a strategic refuelling and distribution depot for military and merchant shipping during the war, and a training site for anti-submarine activities.
Crocodiles and cactus
Things changed radically with the revolution of the 1950s. The US’s lease cheques are still made out to the “Treasurer General of the Republic”, a position that ceased to exist in 1959. They have supposedly been piling up uncashed in a desk drawer; Fidel Castro has said he once cashed one for $4,085 by mistake in the confusion of his government’s early days.
After Castro took control, the White House made clear that no changes in diplomatic relations would affect the Guantánamo treaty. Free access for workers ended in 1958, and heightened security was installed on both sides of the perimeter. Castro increased the natural defence of crocodiles and cactus to create the “Cactus Curtain”, while US troops laid 75,000 land mines between the US and Cuban border. The Missile Crisis of October 1962 saw an influx of US marines to the base. Castro turned off its water supply, prompting the base’s commanders to import water from Jamaica until a desalination plant could be constructed.
In the early 1960s, the base was key for various covert operations to topple Castro’s regime: Northwoods, Mongoose, Bingo, Dirty Trick, and more besides. One of the Northwoods proposals was to blow up a US ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame it on Cuba, reminiscent of what happened to the USS Maine in 1898.
The base remained a focus of Cold War tension until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In that same year, Camp Bulkeley, named after the “Gitmo” base commander of 1964, was hastily enlarged with hundreds of tents to house Haitians fleeing their country after a coup-d’état overthrew democratically-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Those Haitians picked up in international waters by the US Coast Guard were brought to Guantánamo and held for processing by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many were declared economic, not political, migrants, and were returned to Haiti. Others were screened for HIV, and those tested positive were denied entry into the US.
The US government was ultimately sued over the HIV camp, and the case became a cause célèbre, with law students going on hunger strike and actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins raising the issue at the 1993 Academy Awards. The camp was declared unconstitutional and closed.
This episode became something of a blueprint for events at Guantánamo post-2001.
Beyond the rule of law
Much ink has been spilled on what’s happened at Guantánamo since the inception of the War on Terror. The bay’s detention facilities, comprising specific units such as Camp Delta, Camp Iguana, Camp 7 and the now defunct Camp X-Ray, with orange-suited detainees kneeling behind wire fences, are today part of the popular imagination. Amnesty International called the facility “the Gulag of our time”.
Most importantly, various of the US’s practices at Guantánamo violated articles of the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture, to both of which it is signatory. Many of these violations have been justified on the basis of Guantánamo’s extraterritorial status, which has allowed the US to carefully develop it as an anomalous site beyond the rule of law.
President Obama signed an executive order closing the facility at Guantánamo on his first day in office in 2009, but to no avail; the camp remains open. He is still keen to close Guantánamo before his presidency ends. Many in Congress oppose him. Presidential contenders have been asked their views. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support Obama, agreeing that the site is a recruiting tool for fighters against the US around the world.
On the other side, Cuban-American Ted Cruz advocates not just keeping the camp open, but growing it. Donald Trump also wants it bigger. This mirrors Obama’s first presidential campaign: he promised to close it, whereas the Republicans to his right wanted it expanded.
Raúl Castro has repeatedly called for a return of the whole of the US possession to Cuba, citing Cuba’s “ultimate sovereignty”, and the question will loom during Obama’s visit. But the US is deeply embedded in Guantánamo, and will not surrender it willingly. Whoever wins the presidency in November is doomed to inherit an ancient problem. Good luck to them.
Dear USA, can you explain to the world why you are in Cuban territory without permission? Perhaps China should open a military base on the California coast ? And Russia should take over Maine? What would be the difference?
This is shameful behavior from a country that thinks it owns the world (while it’s falling apart).
USA: Get out of Cuba, it does not belong to you!
Look at map below: See, this is Cuba, not the USA.
President Obama presented a plan to congress on Tuesday to accomplish the goal of closing Guantanamo Bay, which was a key part of his platform in 2008.
How is Obama’s proposal going to solve it? The Republicans will vote it down. They’re obstructionists. If Obama says “white,” they say “black.”If Obama says “black,” they say “white. Why do you think the people are so frustrated with the GOP?
As a politician, I probably side with the executive branch a little more. Having come from the executive branch of government, you always would like more power. Most in the executive branch probably would also like to deal less with legislature than they already have to.
The greatest government you can possibly have is that of a benevolent dictator. But you need to know that the dictator is benevolent before granting him or her that power. I say that tongue-in-cheek: it’s a joke, people. But if you think about it, in that context, you could get a lot done for the good of society, and for the betterment of the American people. The biggest problem though is power corrupts. In today’s day and age, your dictators would be benevolent to corporations.
Finally, what would become of the 91 remaining Guantanamo prisoners? Will they ever stand trial? I understand they would place them in other facilities within the United States. But they’ve been held for 15 years in Guantanamo Bay, without officially being charged. They haven’t faced trial.Who is left in Gitmo? Why are they still being held there in the first place? The only Gitmo prisoner that has been notably covered by big media is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who they claim confessed following his torture. Well I guarantee you anyone would be confessing following the torture they put him through.What justice has been done here at Guantanamo Bay? These people have been detained, imprisoned and tortured, without officially facing charges or seeing a day in court.
I find it astounding that the United States of America chooses to behave in this manner.
Come on Mr. Obomber, close Guantanamo Bay like you said you would. Torture and assassinations have no place in a civilized society. Or, keep it open, as we will need an appropriate place to incarcerate all US and UK politicians guilty of war crimes. Remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? We are just waiting for a real International Court of Justice to open up somewhere on the planet.
A former Guantanamo guard has accused the CIA of staging deaths of inmates as suicide.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has staged suicides to cover up inmate deaths at the notorious US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says a former guard.
Nearly 10 years ago, the Pentagon announced that three Guantanamo inmates “killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact.”
“Two Saudis and one Yemeni, each located in Camp 1, were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards,” Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF) said June 10, 2006, adding that “all lifesaving measures had been exhausted.”
The camp was quickly shuttered the next day.
However, former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman says the alleged suicides were in fact staged by the CIA, saying the US government might have had an interest in silencing the prisoners who “caused a lot of problems.”
In an interview with Russia Today, which was published on Saturday, Hickman unveiled what he saw in the few hours leading up to the deaths.
He said he witnessed hunger strike “leaders” being brought to a secret CIA “black site,” where CIA agents would make their deaths look like suicide by hanging.
“I witnessed a van – we used to call it paddy wagon – it was a detainee transport van,” he said. “The van came into the gate, backed up to Camp 1 and took a detainee out of Camp 1 Alpha Block and put him into the paddy wagon and drove [him away].”
This happened two more times over 20 minutes, he said, suggesting that there were “a total of three out of Camp 1 Alpha Block.”
Hickman said that the unusual transfer became more suspicious when the van went to a facility called “Camp No, which is a CIA black site on Guantanamo at the time.”
At the time, the JTF command interrogated up to 200 prisoners per week, according to Hickman. However, detainees made this difficult as they knew Washington-approved Guantanamo interrogation policies would prohibit questioning inmates if they were on a hunger strike.
Consequently, starting from 2005, detainees held long-term hunger strikes.
“All three of those detainees that went to that CIA black site that night were all leaders of the hunger strikes, massive hunger strikes,” Hickman said. “There were constant hunger strikes since they arrived. They caused a lot of problems for the command.”
The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) claimed then that all three were preparing for the suicide and hanged themselves with torn sheets and T-shirts, while their hands were tied.
“After those three deaths, there were two other detainees that committed suicide,” Hickman told RT. “I wasn’t there to say exactly what happened, but I knew from my experience. Those men did not commit a suicide. It brought up questions, which brought up nightmares. It just haunted me until I came forward.”
Guantanamo was established by former president George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 as a prison for alleged foreign terrorism suspects following the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.
A Senate report in December 2014 revealed that the CIA has used a wide array of torture as part of its interrogation methods against Guantanamo prisoners.