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No More Gitmo!���Michael Rapkin

Close Guantanamo Bay and End Indefinite Detention

Today is the 15 year anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Prison. 780 prisoners have entered this black hole and 55 remain locked up, for the most part outside our legal system. Only about 10 have ever been charged with a crime and it is likely that those not yet charged with a crime never will be. Yet 55 prisoners remain. Why?

  • Because the United States continues to engage in an illegal and immoral system of indefinite detention.Prisoners are supposed to have a criminal hearing.If convicted they go to prison. And if not convicted they are to be released.We don’t allow our courts to dispense justice.Only in Gitmo.
  • Because prisoners have been tortured in Gitmo and the evidence obtained through torture cannot be used in a hearing against them. So we keep them locked up and say they are too dangerous to be released. Only in Gitmo.
  • Because Congress has refused to work with President Obama and facilitate the transfer of many prisoners;prisoners who have been vetted by six agencies andat least 19 of the 55 remaining prisoners have already been recognized as not being a national security threat and should be transferred out of Guantanamo.Those agencies overseeing the release of long-time prisoners at Guantanamo includethe Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department, the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence.

Congress would rather spend $8 million dollars per year to house each remaining prisoner in Guantanamo rather than spend $78,000 per prisoner at the federal Supermax prison, where no prisoner has ever escaped. Guantanamo is the most expensive prison on earth.

  • Because Congress would rather spend $8 million dollars per year to house each remaining prisoner in Guantanamo rather than spend $78,000 per prisoner at the federal Supermax prison, where no prisoner has ever escaped. Guantanamo is the most expensive prison on earth.
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  • Because Congress doesn’t care to listen to those Generals and others who say that Guantanamo is a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and is harmful to our national security. For national security reasons, Gitmo must be closed.

We here today have rallied for several years- we have cried out that Gitmo must be closed because it is not an acceptable value in the United States of America. Because it is illegal,and because Gitmo weakens our standing in the world.We have stood out against torture.Yet Gitmo remains open.

There is some good news to tell you.My last remaining client in Guantanamo was transferred to Saudi Arabia last Thursday. Mohammed Ghanem entered the Gitmo prison 15 years ago today, January 11, 2002; the very first day this black hole opened up. He was not caught on the battlefield. In 15 years Mohammed was never charged or convicted with a crime. Yes. He was tortured in various ways, some of which I am prevented by our government fromdiscussing with you.But public information reveals that he was a member of the “frequent flyer program” whereby every two hours for six months he was moved from cell to cell so he couldn’t sleep.He was beaten. And his medical treatment for hemmorrhoids was intentionally delayed.

Last Thursday Mohammedwas greeted at a Saudi Arabian airport by his sister who he has not seen in 15 years. He was prevented from seeing any family for 15 years.Only in Gitmo. 

MLK once said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We must remember those words and be prepared to fight back against an incoming President who said he plans to put some “bad dudes” in Guantanamo.The President Elect also said“Torture works.We will do worse than waterboarding.”Our hope is that his nominee for Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, will have a greater sense of morality and respect for our Constitution. The nominee said torture is not useful. He said “Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers.”

Yes. For the sake of humanity, for our country’s future, and for legal and moral reasons, close Guantanamo. Don’t expand it. But do consider that closing Guantanamo and allowing indefinite detention in another location is not acceptable. No more indefinite detention, anywhere. And no more torture.

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Michael Rapkin