Guantanamo — Still open, still wrong

Published: 01-04-2023 4:30 PM

Many people may be surprised to know that Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba is still open and will mark its 21st unhappy anniversary on Jan. 11. Of the 780 prisoners whom the Bush Administration assured us were the “worst of the worst,” that same administration quietly returned 533 of the men to their homes without interference from Congress. Nine men have died there, most by suicide. Subsequent administrations have further reduced the number of prisoners to 35, 20 of whom have been cleared for transfer if and when foreign governments step forward to take them in. As for the handful of Guantanamo prisoners who are suspected of crimes such as masterminding the 9/11 attacks and who should be tried, their planned military commissions have stalled for more than a decade because their torture-induced testimony is inadmissible.

Many families of 9/11 victims have waited more than two decades for justice and closure that is still not forthcoming. Despite the prison’s attrition and the Pentagon’s failure thus far to try terrorism suspects who have been tortured, the Pentagon has spent millions on new court facilities that will allow judges to hold multiple court proceedings simultaneously. The military also is planning to replace Guantanamo’s aging base hospital with a new, $435 million health care facility, scheduled to open in 2029. Our government needs to hear from all of us that Guantanamo Bay Prison is a failure and must close. It has ruined the lives of hundreds of men and their families, has virtually destroyed the U.S.’s reputation as a nation of laws, and has increased the risk of violence against men and women who serve in the U.S. military. Twenty-one years of injustice are more than enough. This Jan. 11 at noon, join No More Guantanamos, Witness Against Torture, CodePink, and others in front of the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton for a rally calling on our government to close the prison.

Nancy Talanian

West Whately

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