Almost immediately after President Obama took office, he started work on his campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay — and for good reason.
In order to review the government’s handling of terror suspects, his administration requested a 120-day suspension of all war crime trials.
His team has also drafted an unsigned executive order that requires the detainment camp to be closed within a year.
Wells Dixon, an attorney for Guantanamo Bay inmates, said he thinks a year is too long.
“Closing Guantanamo Bay really is not very difficult. I think you have to remember it took only a few days to open the prison, and we certainly think that the prison can be closed in a safe and rational way in no longer than three months,” Dixon said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Company.
Closing the camp will most likely result in the inmates being detained in federal prisons within the continental United States.
Guantanamo Bay has become a global symbol of the Bush administration’s uncompromising security policies — including its disregard for habeas corpus.
However, many more darker and significant human rights issues are at stake. Allegations of torture and abuse at the camp have circulated since 2002. The Bush administration maintained last week that the U.S. does not torture and defended the interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo.
Susan Crawford, a Bush official who oversees military trials, disagrees.
Of the treatment of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a suspect in the 9/11 attacks, she said: “We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture, and that’s why I did not refer the case for prosecution.”
Shutting down the Guantanamo prison camp and ending the torture of detainees will bring the United States into better favor worldwide, something Obama has stressed in his inaugural address. It would also establish a higher standard for the treatment of prisoners on trial for war crimes.
“Guantanamo Bay has created greater danger to our country in terms of what it represents than any of the individual men who are detained there,” Dixon said.
As a world leader, the United States should strive to inspire other countries to favor the civilized treatment of prisoners. Setting an example is the first step.