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Eight years ago today, a Department of Defense C-141 transport plane carrying 20 prisoners arrived in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. On that day, January 11, 2002, the naval base began operating as a detention center for men captured in President Bush’s so-called “war on terror.”
Since that day, nearly 800 prisoners, men as old as 98 and boys as young as 13, have passed through Gitmo. The notorious prison camp has seared into the mind of the world images of hooded, goggled, orange-jumpsuit-clad prisoners shackled in cages. Guantánamo has become synonymous with torture and abuse. Its very existence is a symbol of disregard for the rule of law.
In this video, “Justice Denied,” a few of the former detainees tell their stories. They tell of their capture, detention — some for several years — and abuse inside the facility, and their eventual release without explanation or apology.
On his second day in office, President Obama ordered the closure of the prison at Guantánamo by January 22, 2010.
But last Wednesday, the Obama administration announced it will try a sixth Guantánamo detainee in the unconstitutional military commissions system. Congress has stymied plans to move some of the 198 remaining detainees to a prison in Thomson, Illinois, by refusing to fund an upgrade of the prison’s facilities. It now seems clear that the president’s deadline will pass without any meaningful change in policy for those still held there.
It’s been a shameful eight years. It’s time to close Guantánamo.