If Barack Obama wanted to close Guantanamo and needed an additional argument to do so, he would find dozens in documents about the prison in no-man’s-land leaked by WikiLeaks and reported by this newspaper. A dossier on this infamous penitentiary — which remains open despite the president’s solemn promise in January 2009 — whose publication, as happened before with papers on U.S. foreign policy, Washington has been so quick to regret, saying it is unclear whether or not it would harm their safety.
The Guantanamo papers, which go up until 2009, give us an overpowering inside look at the abuses and violations of the most basic rights committed in the prison set up by George W. Bush in 2002. After the 9/11 attacks, a judicial limbo has been administered by the military in which the U.S. maintains more than 170 Islamic terrorism suspects. There are reports on more than 700 prisoners, many of whom were taken to Guantanamo arbitrarily and some who have been there for nine years, showing a prison system befitting a totalitarian regime, based on suspicion, speculation and accusation.
Much more than with any legal consideration, the permanence of Guantanamo has to do with, as shown by the records of WikiLeaks, the probability, credible or remote, that some of the inmates pose a present or future threat for America because of their connection with al-Qaida or the Taliban. This is regardless of whether they are actually guilty of something. As proof of this, only seven of the detainees have been tried and convicted today.
Guantanamo, a prison that is incompatible with a country that claims to champion the rule of law, is one of the greatest failures and a profound disappointment of Obama’s term. This is the reverse of the president who charmed many of his countrymen and half the world, especially Muslims, by proclaiming his determination: “I don’t want to be ambiguous about it. We are going to close Guantanamo.” This appeared to bolster the idea that ultimately the current White House was not as abominable as that of Bush. And what is more unbelievable is that Obama has not spoken out to criticize the unacceptable conditions in which soldier and WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning remains jailed.
The consolidation of the aberration of Guantanamo, represented by Attorney General Eric Holder, has come this month to announce that finally the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and his most direct accomplices will not be tried by ordinary courts on American soil but by the infamous military commissions and by the procedure of a council of war. The CIA director did not improvise when he stated in February before the Senate that if Osama bin Laden were captured, he would probably end up in Guantanamo.