Alex v. Alex: On the problem of Guantanamo

Alex Harne:

Now that we finally see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, what do we do once we get there? Some argue that we go to far in allowing suspected terrorists to be held on U.S. soil since it would give them claims to the same rights we Americans possess; those inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Those rights that we say all men and women possess.

When Germany was defeated in the Second World War, the Nazi’s were given fair trial at Nuremburg, a handful being sentenced to death while the others were jailed and later released. How can America, fifty years later, be willing to hold men unproven of the crimes they stand accused of?

As Americans we give murderous pedophiles their day in court. We do this because we believe that all men and women, even the monstrous and vile, must take part in the discernment of justice. The closure of Guantanamo is not only a physical act but a symbolic one that carries with it the purging of one of America’s most shameful histories. America does not torture. America does not deny one their opportunity to prove themselves. And America is certainly not a nation that holds out justice in her left hand, only to use her right hand to hold back those who would grasp it.

Alex Long:

President Barack Obama was trying to improve America’s image by closing Guantanamo Bay. Good idea. But as many Americans jumped to celebrate “justice,” they missed reading that Obama’s bill is vague on the future of Guantanamo’s detainees. All will most likely face trial within the United States, and consequently, many will remain in prison or face punishment.

The closing of Guantanamo Bay was simply a fulfillment of a campaign promise. When President Obama was briefed for the first time on national security and CIA top-secret information, I believe he learned things he was completely unaware of when he made his campaign pledge to close Guantanamo. Guantanamo has closed, but another will replace it. The next Guantanamo may not be a nasty prison on the shores of an island. It probably won’t even have a distinguishable name that people can grasp on to and become enraged over. But it will return.

The biggest problem with Guantanamo was the terribly obvious abuse of prisoners. It is hard to justify things like torture and detaining based on soft evidence. But in an age of great complexity, where any one person or move could mean mass destruction, the U.S. government has much pressure to act by any means which will ensure the safety of the country.

Guantanamo Bay is closed, but its prisoners are not free. Its gates have shut, but its practices will continue elsewhere.

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