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Close Guantanamo Prison Now

Michael Rapkin: Guantanamo has shown us, and the world, that America’s justice system -- the rule of law -- does not apply to everyone equally and equitably.
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Last Wednesday we witnessed mob storming of the United States Capitol by hundreds of mostly white, probable domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, and violent intruders.

This included one anti-democratic mobster by the name of Richard Barnett. Most of us have seen the photograph of him sitting at Speaker Pelosi’s desk during the insurrection. He and some others have now been arrested.

This invasion has exposed fragilities in America’s democratic system. But most shocking to me were the images of white terrorists nonchalantly entering and walking within the Capitol building, and then peacefully leaving. What a contrast to the repeated images of police shootings against Black Americans and this summer’s peaceful protestors being tear gassed.

Guantanamo has shown us, and the world, that America’s justice system -- the rule of law -- does not apply to everyone equally and equitably.

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These events bring me to the 19-year injustice that America has perpetuated on all 780 Muslim men and boys who have been imprisoned in Guantanamo, including the 40 that are still there. Guantanamo has shown us, and the world, that America’s justice system -- the rule of law -- does not apply to everyone equally and equitably.

In Guantanamo, there are prisoners who have never been charged with a crime and were tortured; never been given an opportunity to prove their innocence at a trial and never been before a judge in a civilian court. Some have been cleared to go home but they are not being released; and most of the 40 remaining prisoners can never be convicted of terrorism or any other crime because there is no admissible evidence that can convict them. Instead, our government has stated that they do not need to even try them; that we can just let them languish in prison for the rest of their lives. Incredible!

In contrast, let’s consider the domestic terrorist, Richard Barnett. He will not be indefinitely detained. He will not be tortured. Barnett will be arraigned and given the right to a speedy trial. He will be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He will be in a real civilian court. If convicted, Barnett will likely receive a prison sentence that will likely be for far less time than any of the 40 Muslim men have already spent locked up.

The breakdown in the rule of law in Gitmo has perpetuated itself in various ways. During Trump’s hellish four years of attacking democracy and the rule of law there has been a continued failure to faithfully execute our laws. And so we have had certain immigrants indefinitely detained right here in the United States. We have the Muslim travel ban and several other attacks on democracy and the rule of law.

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In nine days President-Elect Biden will have the opportunity to fulfill his pledge to make more equitable our country’s criminal justice system. This includes the necessity to fulfill President Obama’s failed mission to close Guantanamo. Biden and his administration officials can, should and must issue Executive Orders to shut down Guantanamo within Biden's first week in the Oval Office.

Michael Rapkin