As the US administration debates the closing down of the Guantánamo Bay prison, the stigma of opening such a detention center for enemy combatants, a concept conjured to detain anyone without due process indefinitely, will live on.
Erasing the damage to US prestige abroad as a beacon of hope for the word’s oppressed will take time. Time will reveal as well ever-detailed horror stories from the detention center. Gitmo will reach the same notoriety like the gulags in the former Soviet Union and of the internment camps where Japanese Americans were sent during World War II.
The lid on the excesses at Gitmo has come to the public light for sometime now. An army officer, who served at the US enclave in Cuba, says in an AP story that tribunal members relied on flawed evidence.
Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a California lawyer who has served 26 years in the army, said that evidence against detainees didn’t hold up to the most basic legal challenges.
One of the basis of US democracy are checks and balances. There is no such oversight at illegal detention centers like Gitmo.
“What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence,” Abraham said in the affidavit submitted on behalf of a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, who is challenging his classification as an “enemy combatant.”
Abraham’s affidavit “proves what we all suspected, which is that the CSRTs (Combat Status Review Tribunals) were a complete sham,” said a lawyer for al-Odah, David Cynamon.
The sooner Gitmo, and other illegal detention centers operated by the US are closed, the better. It’s one of the first important steps in ridding the world from a treacherous legacy that will haunt us well after George W. Bush’s mandate ends in 2008.