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The Real Reason Guantanamo Should Be Closed

It has been ten years now since the first “terrorists” arrived at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Of the 779 people who have been detained at Guantánamo over the years, 171 still remain.

Of those 171 prisoners, 46 are “indefinite detainees” who will neither be charged nor released, 89 are eligible for release or transfer but are still held in the prison camps, 6 face death-penalty trials that may begin this year, 4 are convicted war criminals, and 1 is serving a life sentence.

Although Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the detainees at Guantánamo “among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth” and insisted that all of them “were captured on a battlefield,” the majority had to be released when it turned out, after months or years of confinement, abuse, or torture, that most were hapless innocents sold by warlords as terrorists to the U.S. military in order to collect a bounty. An analysis by Seton Hall Law School professor Mark Denbeaux — based on the government’s own data — found that only one of the 516 Combatant Status Review Tribunal unclassified summaries of the evidence alleged that a detainee had been captured by the Unites States on a battlefield.

George W. Bush’s assurances in a 2006 White House speech that “we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantánamo Bay belong at Guantánamo” and that detainees “are in our custody so that they cannot murder our people” were simply ruses for indefinite detention.

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