Guantanamo Forever: 28 Words of Hate

Activists protest the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention, Washington DC, USA, 11 January 2012.

“As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in Hell, but as long as they don’t do that they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.” – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

I don’t know if it was just me, or if it was everyone, but the room seemed oddly quiet after Senator Cotton said these 28 words at today’s Senate hearing on Guantanamo. Behind me were dozens of high school students, there for some kind of civics lesson. In front of me were protestors in orange jumpsuits, seated and rapt. For the moment, we were all quiet.

Then the hearing continued. Over nearly two and a half hours, the talk turned again and again to threats, and national security, and there was a different sort of silence: a silence about the human cost of Guantanamo.

In the entire hearing, there was never a single mention of human rights or human dignity – not from the senators or the government witnesses.

And there was never an acknowledgment of the injustice suffered by men like Shaker Aamer, who has never been charged with any crime, who was cleared for transfer years ago, and who still languishes indefinitely at Guantanamo after nearly 13 years.

Instead, there was ignorance and outright indifference to the facts.

“Common sense would tell us that if you’re still in Guantanamo Bay after all these years, you’re still a high risk threat…We wouldn’t have kept them that long.” – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

The hearing was on a new Senate bill that will effectively block the executive branch’s ability to transfer all or nearly all of the 122 men at Guantanamo, including the 54 men that a government panel cleared for transfer years ago.

But the bill is just a symptom of a larger mania: the rhetoric of fear and hate that I heard was really about keeping Guantanamo open forever.

“In my opinion the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now” – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

Senator McCain, chair of the committee, has long said he supports closing Guantanamo. Yet he is supporting the Senate bill that would effectively halt Guantanamo transfers. And today, he said he was supporting the legislation because the administration had failed to provide him a plan for how to close Guantanamo.

But if Guantanamo doesn’t close, then what is the alternative plan? Apparently, it is that the 122 men still there should just “rot,” as Senator Cotton put it, until they die. And it is that the prison remains open indefinitely — for any new prisoners captured off the “global battlefield” — in a war that by its terms could last forever.

Take action – Tell John McCain: the America I believe in would close Guantanamo.

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12 thoughts on “Guantanamo Forever: 28 Words of Hate

  1. How horrible. Any wonder the US has so many critics?? How can they criticise others for lack of human rights?

  2. There is no end to the madness of Guantano and those who support it. I guess you could say that the treatment of these men would turn them into extremists, if they weren't already. But that is besides the point. The fact that Guantanamo exists is an Afro t to human dignity, rights, Cuba, and common sense.

    Just let these men go. Close down Guantanamo.

  3. Those who oppose the closing of this torture facility and the transfer of innocents are more than just ignorant subhumans, they hold an unrealistic, and dare I say unholy, view of what is right. How shameful.

  4. Dear Senator McCain,

    You have so far emerged as the sane voice in the Republican Party, please do not loose your credibility over the Bill to prevent the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

    I am not an American, but I believe in the principles of the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights, and so should the United States. The United States, cannot claim to be champions of human rights, while there are gross human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay by the United States. That put a blight on your cause, and raises questions about American standards and ultimately legitimacy in promoting human rights violations in other nations.

    Those prisoners cannot and should not be kept locked up forever without the possibility of regaining their freedom. Nations who are privy to the UNDHR have a moral obligation to maintain higher moral standards than that of the individual, or those who attack them, in this case the alleged terrorists. What happens to American values when America displays such a gross disregard for international law norms?

    Please do not support that Bill, as it places America in the same category as countries such as China and Saudi Arabia. Where human lives have been devalued by religious and political ideology. Please close Guantanamo Bay and bring an end to American impunity. There is a limit to American exceptionalism, and this is it. The resulting effects of 9/11 ought not be a cold and insensitive America! Your greatness will be measured by the humanity you show these prisoners.

    Please do something positive, and re-establish America's place as the leader of the free world.

  5. It's past time Guantanamo is closed. So many have been
    meant for transfers out and still remain. There are people
    on the outside waiting for these prisoners release so they can get
    on with their lives. Release those that have been
    Scheduled to leave. Close Guantanamo.

  6. I understand that these people really committed terrible acts, but the first phrase seems just disturbing. I disagree with people who assume in this way right into how another person life's evolves.

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