It’s Long Past Time To Close Gitmo

May 15, 2013

It is long past time to close the U.S. naval station located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Gitmo to the sailors and marines that have been stationed there.  And no, I am not talking about only closing the prison camp located on the base, which currently houses one hundred and sixty-six men who have been designated as enemy combatants, and have been held as long as eleven years without trial.  Only nine of these current detainees have ever been alleged to have committed any sort of terrorist act.  Eighty-six of these men have been absolved of any terrorist activity and deemed eligible for either outright release or transfer back to their home country for at least three years, twenty-eight of which were ruled releasable during the George W. Bush presidency.

To make matters worse, officially, one hundred of these prisoners begun a hunger strike four months ago, although lawyers for the men say the number is closer to one hundred and thirty.  Five of these men have been hospitalized, while twenty-three are being force-fed via a feeding tube running down their nose and throat into their stomach.  To do so, these men have to be restrained in chairs. To ensure that no prisoner starves themselves to death during their strike, the military has sent additional medical staff to the prison camp.  Currently, there is nearly one medical staff member for each prisoner, an astronomical ratio, especially considering many Republican members of Congress see little need for the poorest of Americans to have any medical treatment or coverage at all.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has opined that force feeding these men “violates core ethical values of the medical profession.”  The AMA has further expressed their apprehension regarding this treatment in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in which Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, the AMA president wrote “The AMA has long endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, which is unequivocal on the point: ‘Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.’”  The Declaration of Tokyo is a collection of international guidelines for physicians concerning the torture and other sadistic, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners that was adopted during the twenty-ninth General Assembly of the World Medical Association in October of 1975.

In our lust to seek revenge for the horrific attack of September 11, 2001, we have invaded two countries, resulting in the longest wars in our history, conducted torture on prisoners of war in violation of the rules of the Geneva Conventions and have held prisoners/enemy combatants in violation of both civil and human rights.  Is this really what America, a country which professes to be a nation of law, stands for?  In 2010, President Obama proposed closing the prison camp, moving the detainees to an unused super-maximum prison in Illinois.  However, Congress blocked his attempt to do so and is currently considering spending an additional two hundred millions dollars to upgrade the prison camp.  With a cost of one hundred and fifty million dollars a year to maintain the prison, this comes to more than nine hundred thousand dollars per detainee, thirty times what it cost to house a typical prisoner in an American penal institution.

I propose not only closing the Gitmo prison camp but also that of the entire naval station at Guantanamo Bay, the oldest U.S. overseas naval base, which was established by the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903.  With seven Navy and Marine Corps. bases, seven Air Forces bases and fifteen Coast Guard bases located in the state of Florida, is there any reason to have a base in Cuba, located only ninety miles away, other than to aggravate the Castro brothers?

The United States has nearly seven hundred and fifty official military bases located in other countries throughout the world.  President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has recently said the United States has told him that we are planning on maintaining nine military bases in his country after our war is to conclude at the end of 2014.  We still have thirty thousand troops stationed along the 38th parallel in Korea sixty years after that war ended.  We have an untold number of military bases located throughout Europe nearly seventy years after World War II ended.  This nation is falling apart at the seams.  Our infrastructure is aging and rapidly deteriorating, our kindergarten through high school educational system ranks near the bottom of all industrialize countries, we are heavily in debt all the while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are facing drastic reductions in services due to budget shortfalls as we are bankrupting ourselves with our numerous military and imperialist crusades.  You need a scorecard to keep track of all our current ongoing military endeavors.

We spend one and a half trillion dollars annually on defense and intelligence, yet we are more despised and hated and more attacked than ever before in our relatively short history.  We must stop this madness!

Steven H. Spring

5 thoughts on “It’s Long Past Time To Close Gitmo

  1. Where do you propose that they keep those men?? Im quite sure if they are there its for a reason…not just to be cruel….If they are released what do you think is going to happen?? Im sure that they will go right back out and do the exact thing again that they are in there for… True it is ridiculous the amount of money that it costs to keep open but there are many other ways spending could be cut before we just simply close it down…. Maybe we could learn one lesson from third world countries….put a bullet in their head….would be so much easier and cheaper…but we are trying to do the right thing…. and we dont want to make a martyr out of them….I cant think of anywhere else that they would be safe…for their own safety and ours….If the majority of Americans could get to them especially the ones in the prisons what do you think would happen to them?? Trust me it would not be pretty.

    We are simply trying to do some good in other countries and our own…as well as ensure the safety of our citizens. We are trying to help others develop
    their own democracy and stop dictatorships……trying to ensure the safety of women and children around the world who have no rights at all and are literally killed for no reason.

    It is very sad the innocent bloodshed in other countries. We are trying to help those that need our help in other ways other than with our military. There are other countries that would literally starve to death if it werent for the loads of rice or grain or food that we send to them. Most people from our country have nothing but the best of intentions. Our missionaries have taught some countries how to grown gardens and given them seeds of hope. Some have actually gone and set up water wells for their villages saving them from death. We have helped many other countries in many many ways.

    If you ask me anyone who is not pleased with the way we do things in this Country is free to leave. There is much more madness in this world than you may find in our great Nation.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my article. To answer your questions in the order that you raised them, as I mentioned in the article, there is a super-max prison in Illinois that is currently not being used. Let’s place the detainees there. If you’re worried about a detainee escaping, when was the last time you heard of a prisoner escaping from a maximum prison?

      We are spending nearly a million dollars a year per detainee to house these men in Gitmo, when the average cost of housing a prisoner in the U.S. is $30,000. Only 9 of the 166 detainees have been alleged to have ever committed a terrorist act. 86 of these men have been absolved of committing any terrorist act and have been deemed eligible for outright release or transfer back to their home country, 28 of which were ruled as such during George W. Bush’s presidency. In America, a person is innocent until proven guilty, yet these 86 men have been found guilty on nothing and have been locked up for as long as 11 years.

      Put a bullet to their head? They haven’t been convicted of a crime. Is this really what you want America to stand for?

      Steven Spring

  2. It’s well worth every penney that is spent to keep to keep Guantanimo Bay open in my opinion. The amount of money that is spent is a drop in the bucket compared to the money spent on prisons. It is a small price to pay to ensure our safety. Honestly do not believe that all we have to do is annoy Castro brothers. I guess you probably think we should close our military bases in other countries. I think that September 11, 2001 has changed this country forever. We do not lust for revenge as much as we want to ensure the safety, freedom and constitutional rights to our children and grandchildren.

    • So Down,

      Thanks for being a regular reader/viewer of my blog. As I said in this particular post, it costs thirty times the US average for housing prisoners as we spend housing Gitmo detainees. Then consider we have a super-max prison in Illinois sitting empty. Then you have to question why we are still detaining, what was it eighty-six men who have been found guilty of nothing. If those men weren’t terrorists before being detained, can you blame them if they are one now?

      You beat me to my next comment, in that, along with conservative perennial Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan who says the same thing, I do believe we should close all or almost all of our foreign military bases, especially one located just ninety miles from Florida. Osama bin Laden attacked us on September 11th because we left our military in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, the most holy of land in the Islam religion.

      We spend as much money on defense and intelligence as nearly the rest of the world combined. We are bankrupting ourselves militarily and where has it gotten us? We live in constant fear, which is exactly the purpose of terrorism of any kind. Not only are we heavily arming ourselves militarily, but we are also arming the rest of the world. We are the world’s leading arms seller, doubling what Russia, as number two sells. We live in fear not only of the rest of the world (not long ago, all the talk was about nuclear war with that youngster in North Korea, and are we really afraid of him?), we live in fear of our neighbors as well. Americans are training their five year old children how to shoot assault weapons.

      In my writings over the past decade, I often quote President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated that “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, many who credit for winning World War II, America should have listened. As a business model, the military-industrial complex remains in business and profitable only via the costly aspects of war.

      Steven Spring

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