Should the Guantánamo Bay prison remain open?

The prison must be closed as it stands for hypocrisy and infringes upon international human rights.

 One hundred of the total 166 inmates at the Guantánamo Bay prison currently on hunger strike have successfully refocused debate on the deplorable conditions at the prison. During a press conference on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he remained committed to closing the prison and moving the prisoners to civilian-run prisons within the United States.

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

It is unfortunate that the prisoners needed to stop eating to bring the issue back to national prominence because Guantánamo Bay should have closed years ago.

First and foremost, as Obama said during the news conference, the most offensive and shocking problem with Guantánamo Bay is the infinite detention in which the accused terrorists are held without trial or easy access to lawyers.

Not only is this a violation of constitutional rights, this is also a violation of international human rights. The isolated location of the Guantánamo Bay prison means that lawyers cannot contact their clients in prison without flying to the naval base in Cuba. The flight is arduous, costly and takes so much time that many of the lawyers cannot spend enough time with their clients to mount strong legal defenses. In a nation where every person is constitutionally guaranteed the right to a fair trial, these abuses cannot stand; the U.S. must either try the accused with due haste or release them as innocent men.

Furthermore, the prison’s isolated location has led to less oversight for prison officials. The New York Times reported that guards recently placed prisoners who lived communally into individual, isolated cells. Prisoners also report the use of excessive force and brutality from the guards. These kinds of problems are less common in a prison in the United States because there will be more opportunity for oversight from lawyers, government officials and human-rights monitors.

Of course, there has been some resistance to housing these alleged terrorists on American soil. A spokesman for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said “there is wide, bipartisan opposition in Congress to the president’s goal of moving those terrorists to American cities and towns,” because the alleged terrorists are perhaps seen as dangerous prisoners who were trying to kill Americans.

McConnell’s argument is flawed, however, because no other American prisoners are kept in offshore facilities because they killed Americans. James Holmes, who was charged with killing 12 and injuring 60 when he opened fire at a Batman screening in Aurora, Colo. is currently being held in jail in Centennial, Colo. He allegedly killed more Americans than most of the Guantánamo detainees. If the American penal system is considered suitable to keep the public safe from people such as Holmes, then the public will still be safe if the prisoners are moved from Guantánamo Bay to facilities in the U.S.

This systematic repression of suspected terrorists and the denial of their civil and human rights degrades the United States’ image around the world. By continuing to maintain the Guantánamo Bay prison, the U.S. loses legitimacy when calling for just criminal procedures and fair prison conditions in other nations, such as Iran and North Korea, from which the U.S. sought release of American citizens in recent years. This two-faced attitude creates the perception that the U.S. views itself as superior to the rest of the world.

As a result, other nations, both friend and foe, are less likely to cooperate with America. Worse, terrorist networks, such as al-Qaida, use these incidents to legitimately say that the U.S. is acting poorly as a superpower, thus increasing support for terrorist groups committed to fighting the U.S. and killing Americans. If the U.S. continues to maintain Guantánamo Bay, the terrorists win.

Dan Morgan-Russell is a freshman majoring in international relations global business.


The prison is a way to protect U.S. citizens from the most dangerous criminals and enemies of the country.

 The United States prides itself on being the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our democracy is envied because of its exemplary foundation. The United States Constitution clearly dictates the rights of citizens and the rights of those elected — our freedom cannot be infringed upon.

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Because of this, action must be taken to protect everything that we hold dear. Those who are jealous of Americans’ rights or want to take the country down through shameless murder will be held accountable for their actions. Those who want to hurt us and ruin the very freedoms that we constantly brag about must be stopped.

Currently, there are 100 inmates on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prison, commonly known as Gitmo. According to The New York Times, prisoners are protesting their living situation, as if they checked into a hotel and found it to their disliking.

There is no need to discuss what they might think is excessive force or brutality. Unfortunately for them, there is a reason why these prisoners are in prison to begin with. Unfortunately for them, they did something or said something that alerted officials to their danger. Unfortunately for them, they decided to be enemies of the United States.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama conducted a press conference in which he recommitted to closing down Gitmo,  something he promised during his first election campaign in 2008.

“The notion that we’re going to keep 100 individuals in no man’s land in perpetuity … All of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?” he said.

Why? Perhaps because they pose some danger to the safety of millions of Americans — or else they wouldn’t be in the prison to begin with. While we must be skeptical of our governmental institutions, we must also trust the government to protect us.

When Obama previously tried to close Gitmo, the move was shot down in Congress, mostly because of the fact that these dangerous detainees would be moved to a maximum security prison in Illinois, according to the Boston Globe.

A spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell stated that “there is wide, bipartisan opposition in Congress to the president’s goal of moving those terrorists to American cities and towns.”

Since when does the President of the United States put the well-being of political prisoners before the well-being of his own citizens? The administration should be aiming to protect us — not them.

We cannot pretend to know what goes on behind those bars on that isolated island in Cuba. We do not know if there is torture, if there is excessive force. All we do know is that the prisoners are in prison because of their actions. It is up to the U.S. government to take care of the situation by any means necessary. If one accused terrorist offers important information in a torture session in Guantánamo, then the existence of the prison is worth it.

It sounds depressing — it almost sounds evil. But in order to save ourselves from the hurt and the madness that these prisoners have or have tried to inflict upon us, it is a necessary evil.

Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. She was the Editorial Director of the Daily Trojan.






7 replies
  1. Liberty Minded
    Liberty Minded says:

    With drone killings happening so indiscriminately, is there any law or lawful people left in the USA?

    Why does President Obama need prisons? Are these fellow human beings so valuable to the security of the USA that they need to be force fed?

    Now that we have left the battle field of Iraq and Afghanistan, can we safely let the POWs go?

  2. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    Perhaps a USC law student or attorney can answer: Although these captives are “irregulars,” without uniform or identity as a soldier of some nation, should they not be considered prisoners of war (POWs)? If their only action was combat against US forces, is that a justiceable crime? Simply being an enemy soldier fighting against the US wasn’t a crime during our past wars. Of course, you can answer that Congress did not formally declare war this time, but declared wars are likely a thing of the past for the US. The US Congress will likely never formally declare war again.

    Yes, this war is not a war against any nation, so the enemy are not regular soldiers, but they are still enemy combatants. So treat them like POWs. This means that they should not be charged as criminals, should not be accorded lawyers and should not be charged or tried. They should instead remain POWs in detention for the duration of the war. Yes, it could be a long war. Too bad. They should have thought of that before volunteering to become mujahadeen (holy warriors of Islam) and waging jihad (holy war) against the US.

    So how about Guantanamo, then? The geography of their POW camp is irrelevant. The Arizona desert would be OK, too. One way or another, the mujahadeen taken captive while in combat against US forces should be kept in a POW camp, whether at Guantanamo or elsewhere, until the holy war is over or they are far too old to be a threat.

  3. milos57
    milos57 says:

    Wow. As a Trojan and a DT alumnus, I’m embarrassed that someone so full of delusional xenophobic and fascist vitriol as Sheridan Watson could serve as an editorial director.

    • anonymous
      anonymous says:

      Despite this comment being rather harsh, I can’t help but agree. The way you very ignorantly throw around patriotism in the form of wanting to continue locking away so-called American hating ‘evildoers’ because they might be plotting to hurt Americans makes your response to Dan’s argument elementary and frankly, humorous.

  4. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    Gitmo is one of the cleanest,most comfortable places these war criminals will spend part or all of their lifetime in. Remember, these folks are out to kill anyome who disagrees with their way of life. They are bound to kill the infidel, at any cost, in order for them to achieve their place in their society. Gitmo is the safest place for them to be incarcerated.

    When you’re at war, POWs are held in prison until the wa is over. Obama and Holder’s desire to bring these criminals into our country, to give them rights as Americans to due process of law, is unconstitutional and treasonous.

    The author of this article is misgided by the communist run left wing of the lkberal political movement, and will only serve to take away our rights as American citizens and give rights to non-citizens, using the humanitarian concept. This is a smokescreen folksand if you allow it to continue, you and your offspring will be living in a country that you will not recognize. Be careeful what you ask for. Obama’s ineffective leadership and presidential administratiois proving my point, on a dail basis. Amateurs and neophytes = failed presidency.

    • WHOME
      WHOME says:

      agreed….any marathon runner readers think they should release the gitmo prisoners?

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