With hardly any mention in the media, today marks the shameful, pathetic and tragic 11th anniversary of the opening of Gitmo--universally regarded as a human rights cesspool where 166 detainees are still held in an extra-legal blackhole even though 86 of them have been cleared for release.
Four years ago this month, President Obama issued an Executive Order vowing to close Gitmo within one year. A week ago, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which bars the use of federal funds to trasnsfer detainees from Gitmo to U.S. soil or to a foreign country.
The tragic effects of this are not merely hypothetical. In September, Adnan Latif--cleared for release three times--committed suicide. Please watch this chilling, must-see NYT Op-Doc by Laura Poitras about Latif.
People don't seem to realize that the same bill that is keeping prisoners languishing at Gitmo, is also the bill that allows for indefinite preventive detention of Americans. There's a cognitive disconnect. We have a vivid, diabolical example before our very eyes of what indefinite detention looks like, and the political and legal quagmire it creates, yet we agree obediently to subject ourselves to the same to ourselves. It's not that Americans deserve better than foreigners. It's that no one should be detained indefinitely, with little or no due process, on the say-so of some government functionary or body that cannot be challenged.
The cacophonous convergenece of Obama signing the NDAA; nominating torture technique pioneer and drone daddy John Brennan to head the CIA; co-producing the "torture works" agitprop otherwise known as Zero Dark Thirty; and sending to jail CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou (who exposed torture rather than committed it), uderlines the reason that open-ended detention is twisted, undemocratic, immoral and illegal. Indefinite detention is a hallmark of some of the most repressive countries in the world--China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia.
The 86 men who've been cleared by the Guantanamo Review Task Force should be released immediately. This would be a small curative for one of the biggest stains on American history.