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Guantanamo Bay

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Guantanamo Bay A seemingly endless war is upon us, between the United States and the countless terrorists of ISIS, Al Qaeda and others. The Naval Station detention camp located in Cuba, referred to as Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo (GTMO), holds prisoners, or detainees, who have been involved in terrorist activities. Some believe that Gitmo should be closed because of recent torture stories involving U.S. officials on the prisoners of the camp. They surmise that by closing Gitmo, tensions with the terrorists will lessen, which is far from true. Closing Guantanamo Bay would have a negative effect on the overall position of the United States in this arduous battle with the terrorists. President George W. Bush decided to transfer high value detainees from Central Intelligence Agency sites in the summer of 2006. Usually, captured soldiers would have protection under the Geneva Convention, which establishes the standards of law for the humanitarian treatment of war, or the basic rights of wartime prisoners. The detainees, being suspected Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, were not viewed as a part of a legitimate government, so it is not clear whether they should be protected under international law (Dahlstrom). The purpose of Guantanamo Bay was to capture any person who was involved in the terrorism that caused many U.S. deaths; it is a way, and maybe the only way, that the United States has in order to protect its citizens. In an article called, “The Historical Perspective on Guantanamo Bay: The Arrival of The High Value Detainees,” Morris D. Davis wrote, “Detainees were sent to Guantánamo Bay to be exploited for intelligence purposes, not to perfect criminal cases against them,” (Davis 115). The information gained from the radical Islamics could help in stopping American deaths, and it has. In 2007, Representative James Sensenbrenner stated, “Gitmo is a success. It keeps terrorists away from our shores and helps keep Americans safe. The prisoners at Gitmo were captured as members of al Qaeda and fought against American soldiers to defend the Taliban. Interrogations have brought invaluable intelligence that has helped President Bush prevent further attacks on American soil,” (Sensenbrenner 5). The last major terrorist attack on the United States was 9/11, and after Guantanamo Bay was opened in January of 2002, there have been no major attacks. In 2009, Obama gave a speech about how Gitmo will be closed, and that he would make sure it would be done during his presidency; that was 6 years ago. His reasoning was that “Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained” (Obama 292), but yet Islamic terrorists had announced their intentions against the United States long before Guantanamo Bay was established as a terrorist detention center. In 1998, before Gitmo was made, “al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and leading Muslim militants announced the formation of a coalition called the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders. They signed a fatwa (religious opinion) that called on all Muslims to ‘kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military,’ wherever they may be” (Maginnis). Guantanamo Bay was created to protect U.S. citizens and stop the terrorist attacks by getting information about future attacks and plans, and it is doing just that. Inside Guantanamo Bay, there is a security department that includes the Antiterrorism & Force Protection office, the Joint Task Force (JTF), the Security Department, and many more areas of trained protection. The Antiterrorism & Force Protection office “writes, enforces and exercises the antiterrorism plan and coordinates efforts with all commands onboard to ensure compliance. Major antiterrorism drills and exercises, generating event plans and assisting the Joint Task Force with commissions and movement operations are also part of this office. The Security Department detects, deter and mitigate acts of terrorism while ensuring a safe working environment for all personnel onboard” (CNIC Navy). This Naval Station is well equipped with professionally trained soldiers and deeply researched plans to keep the camp safe and productive. Yet, the topic of torture is the reason that most people believe that Guantanamo Bay should be closed. Reports of torture have come from the released prisoners and from journalists that have visited. After President Obama closed the state department office responsible for finding countries to take detainees, instead of actually closing Gitmo like he had promised 5 years earlier, over 100 detainees went on a hunger strike out of frustration. The detainees “became increasingly malnourished, [so] military officials decided to force-feed as many as 46 detainees on a given day” (Hansen 14). The only reason that the prisoners were in this situation was because they did not accept the food placed before them; they are not being mistreated unless they do not cooperate with the officials in Guantanamo Bay. Congressman James Sensenbrenner explains the camp by saying, “Each day the detainees are given three culturally appropriate meals. They have daily opportunities to shower, exercise and receive medical attention. Furthermore, the International Committee of the Red Cross is in Guantanamo, ensuring that detainees from Afghanistan receive fair treatment under International Humanitarian Law” (Sensenbrenner). The detainees have the best facilities in the history of war prisoner camps. Even some civil liberties and human rights groups have now agreed that Guantanamo Bay should stay open for the safety of U.S. citizens. They “have declared that they would rather see Guantánamo remain open than have the government detain prisoners without trial on U.S. soil,” (Gerstein). Keeping the terrorists contained is the best option for safety. Torture has happened and cannot be denied, but it does not mean that the terrorists should be rewarded with freedom for appearing weak and helpless in the eyes of the media. The so-called “religion of peace,” has brought more death than anyone could have ever imagined. Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 25,200 deadly terror attacks since 9/11, an unbelievably scary number to grasp (Roberts). A retired Army lieutenant colonel, a national security and foreign affairs analyst for radio and television, and a senior strategist with the U.S. Army, Robert Maginnis, stated, “Islamic extremists are trained to hate the West from an early age. The root of Muslim alienation is their discontent with their totalitarian regimes. America is often used by dictator-controlled media and radical Islamic clerics as a scapegoat. Recruiting among disenfranchised youth will continue with or without Gitmo” (Maginnis). No matter what the United States does, the terrorists will not give in, which is why it is unreasonable to assume that the fighting will stop when we give their people back. A man by the name of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was released by Obama in 2009, and he became the leader of ISIS a year later (Greenberg). This simply proves that the detainees who have been released are likely to return to terrorist activities. The Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. announced before Congress in 2011, “There have been 599 detainees that have been repatriated from Guantanamo; some 161 of them either confirmed or suspected to be recidivists” (Kessler), meaning that they have returned to those terror attacks. Even just one prisoner who becomes a recidivist should be enough to conclude that Guantanamo Bay should not be closed. David Cole, the Nation’s legal affairs correspondent said, “What seems to drive Congress and the courts is the desire to eliminate any risk, no matter how remote, that a detainee might harm us in the future. Neither Congress nor the courts, however, seem to have any problem with the countervailing risk, namely that we may be needlessly and arbitrarily locking up human beings for years who pose no threat whatsoever,” (Cole 6). This is a valid and very concerning thought for many, but a bigger issue could be at hand; American lives at risk. The idea is that it is worth the risk in order to protect the United States. The sole purpose of Guantanamo Bay is to do anything in the United States’ power to keep its people safe from the realistic terrorist attacks that are a threat to not only the people, but the government as well. The war is continuing on, and the United States of America cannot back down. The Naval Base detention camp at Guantanamo Bay needs to stay open. In order for the U.S. to have any chance at defeating the terrorists of ISIS and Al Qaeda, Gitmo should stay open to continue interrogations and to use new information to further our knowledge on the fight at hand. By keeping Guantanamo Bay open, the United States government can have the upper hand with invaluable information that can help us in the war. By knowing more we can prepare and act on what we know, creating an advantage that can give us the ability to help each country under terrorist rule. Keeping Guantanamo Bay will have an undeniably positive effect on the overall position of the United States during this unabating conflict.

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