Redressing crimes at Guantanamo Bay will take years

February 12, 2009 — by Gautham Ganesan

It didn’t take President Barack Obama long to begin righting the myriad wrongs committed by the disastrous regime he is thankfully replacing. Just 12 hours into his tenure as the 44th president of the United States, Obama signed a bill to shut down the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, notoriously used by the Bush administration to torture suspected terrorists, by the end of the year.

The move is refreshing to say the least, instilling confidence that the Obama administration is every bit the human rights proponent it billed itself as during the campaign. The stench emanating from the ethical and legal quagmire that is Guantanamo Bay, however, only grows more pungent in the aftermath of Obama’s veritable admittance that the events occurring in the prison directly violated the Geneva Convention.

Redressing the innumerable crimes committed at Guantanamo under the purveyance of such blatantly unlawful documents as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 will prove a long and arduous process for the Obama Administration a process that the primary perpetrators of these crimes, George Bush and Dick Cheney, should assume both a role in and responsibility for.

The aforementioned Military Commissions Act is a flagrant mockery of the Geneva Convention and must be repealed immediately to prevent Guantanamo Bay prisons from merely being relocated rather than expunged forever. The act strips ambiguously defined “alien unlawful enemy combatants” of essentially the entirety of their Geneva Convention rights and sadly retains legal validity even in a post-Guantanamo world.

In addition to repealing the Military Commisions Act to bring an end to the country’s sordid interrogation practices, the government must deal with the logistics of unleashing the dozens of individuals being held at Guantanamo. While none of them deserve the torture inflicted upon them during their stay at the prison, many of them are terrorists and therefore should be transferred to high-security facilities elsewhere. The government’s apparent lack of a plan regarding this matter is extremely concerning.

While President Obama’s shutdown of Guantanamo Bay was decidedly swift, it will take years for the U.S. government to absolve itself of the countless moral follies it oversaw over the course of the prison’s existence and fully recover from this squalid chapter in its history.

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