Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay is a facility stationed in Cuba that holds persons suspected of terrorism.

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1 Guantanamo Bay Guantanamo Bay is a facility stationed in Cuba that holds persons suspected of terrorism. Its purpose and conditions have been a source of controversy in the United States as well as the world. U.S. presence at Guantanamo Bay started during the Spanish American War when the location was used as a naval base. The base remained active through the Cuban Revolution, despite Fidel Castro s wants to close it. Agreements with Fulgencio Batista, the former president of Cuba, allowed America to keep it open, making Guantanamo Bay the only U.S. naval base situated in a communist country. Through the 1990 s, Guantanamo Bay, also known as Gitmo, became a safe haven for Haitian refugees fleeing their country during a violent government coup (Fetini). After the terrorist attacks on September 11 th, 2001, the naval base was converted into a prison for suspected terrorists, specifically targeting Al Qaeda and Taliban members. Gitmo has gained negative attention from the media and human rights groups questioning the credibility and practices of the facility. The conditions at Gitmo have been the focus of many human rights activists in America. They say that the facility subjects the detainees to live in unjust conditions such as solitary confinement, constricting restraints, and unsanitary housing (Amnesty). Many believe that these conditions can cause psychological damage. Others believe that the conditions at the facility are fair. They state that Guantanamo staff respects religious freedoms; the facility provides a copy of the Koran for all holding cells, as well as helping detainees pray in the direction of Mecca, the muslim holy city (Rhem). The facility is divided into multiple camps based on the detainee s level of compliance. The most compliant are housed in camp four, which provides longer recreational time and communal housing (Rhem). Guantanamo s Initial Reaction Force (IRF) has strung up controversy in the past over how they treat the detainees. One man has stated that the

2 IRF collectively beat him during his recreation time, and laughed as they urinated on him afterwards. Other allegations of IRF abuse include the deliberate cutting of detainee s palms with scissors, hog tying (tying of the hands and feet behind ones back), and eye gouging. Many have gone on hunger strikes to non-violently protest what they believe to be human rights abuses, to which the IRF has responded by force feeding the non-compliant detainees (Amnesty). The conditions at Gitmo have been the focus of many human rights activists in America. These activists say that the facility subjects the detainees to uncomfortable and inhumane conditions such as solitary confinement, constricting restraints, unsanitary housing. Guantanamo s Initial Reaction Force (IRF) has strung up controversy in the past over how they treat the detainees. They also believe the tactics used in interrogations of the detainees violate their human rights and could be considered torture. Many believe that these conditions and treatments can cause psychological damage, but others believe that the conditions at the facility are fair. They state that Guantanamo staff respects religious freedoms; the facility provides a copy of the Koran for all holding cells, as well as helping detainees pray in the direction of Mecca (their holy city). Decisions on how to approach this controversy and the actions taken within the camp has been difficult. Both Bush and Obama s plans of actions have not gained the support of all Americans. During the Bush Administration, the policies regarding Guantanamo Bay differed from those of the Obama Administration. Former President Bush believed that the harsh interrogation methods, and the facility itself were the most valuable tools on the war on terror (Eggen). He believed that the detainees did not have the legal right to apply for a habeas corpus (a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention), for the facility was not on

3 US soil (stationed in Cuba). Bush talked briefly about closing the facility during the end of his term but did not follow through with any plans. Overall, his administration saw the facility as useful and aspired to keep it open (Cutler). The Obama Administration disagrees with these policies, for since the start of President Obama s presidency in 2008, he has yearned to close the facility. The President believes it has been the source of some Anti-American feelings throughout the world, for some of our fundamental values (abiding by the rules of law and being against torture) have been violated within the camp. His policy has been one of restricting CIA interrogation techniques to abide by those permitted by the US military (Isikoff), as well as reviewing each detainees cases individually, determining how to try each person. Both plans of action have sparked controversy throughout America. There are three main positions regarding the controversial fate of Guantanamo Bay: closing it, keeping it open, and changing it. The arguments for closing the prison include ending practices of torture or unusual punishments, releasing cleared inmates, moving the remaining detainees to American facilities, and adding government oversight. Another side to this argument is keeping the prison open. People who support this side state that Gitmo was built to hold those suspicious of being involved with terrorism, and it has been doing just that. They believe there is no other concrete way to punish these special criminals because they cannot be treated the same as the average American felon. If the US were to release them, it would be a larger threat to America s security (Huffington Post). The last stance is to keep it open, but change it. For instance, none of the detainees have been tried in a court of law, so if trials were to take place, it would be more organized. They also think that if the US were to release the 78 cleared to go home (to the country they previously lived in), it could reduce the facility s cost by almost half. thereby reducing the facility s cost by almost half. Government oversight could make sure

4 nothing out of the lines of the law occurred, helping make Guantanamo Bay safe for the detained and those watching them. Overall, it has been proven hard to create one effective solution to the controversy surrounding the facility.

5 Works Cited: "A Decade of Guantanamo." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 11 Jan Web. 20 Oct < html>. CFR. CFR, n.d. Web. 13 July < should-guantanamo-bay-closed/p13725>. "Current Conditions at Guantanamo Bay." Amnesty. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct < Cutler, Leonard. "Bush vs. Obama Detainee Policy Post 9/11: An Assessment." Strategic Studies Quarterly. N.p., Web. 23 Oct < Eggen, Dan. "Bush Announces Veto of Waterboarding Ban." The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 Mar Web. 21 Oct < AR html>. Fetini, Alyssa. "A Brief History of Gitmo." Time. Time, 10 Nov Web. 20 Oct < 0,8599, ,00.html>. Isikoff, Michael. "Obama's Order Ends Bush-Era Interrogation Tactics." Newsweek. Newsweek LLC, 21 Jan Web. 20 Oct < obamas-order-ends-bush-era-interrogation-tactics-77965>. Mirror.co.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct < world-news/inside-guantanamo-bay-go-behind >. Rhem, Kathleen T. "Detainees Living In Varied Conditions At Guantanamo." Defense. U.S. Department of Defense, 16 Feb Web. 20 Oct < Stockdale, Nancy L. "Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp." ABC-CLIO ebook Collection. American Government, n.d. Web. 20 Oct < ?terms=guantanamo%20bay>

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