An unfortunate anniversary

JANUARY 11TH, 2008 | TomHarkin

It was six years ago that the Bush Administration began imprisoning detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Approximately 275 detainees remain indefinitely detained at the prison, isolated from scrutiny, and prevented any right to due process, judicial review, or a fair trial.

Let me be clear: the detainees at Guantanamo who are enemies of the U.S. should be charged, tried and, if convicted, should be punished.

But the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is a betrayal of fundamental American principles and must be shut down. The prison itself has become a symbol of American hypocrisy and is used as a recruiting tool for those who wish to cause us harm.

Every day that the prison remains open, it causes further damage to our international relationships and contributes to the permanent stain on our nation’s honor. The United States has an obligation to treat detainees and prisoners of war in accordance with our international commitments and our American values. When we do not live up to international commitments, we put our own soldiers at risk should they ever be captured.

In June 2006, President Bush declared that he would “like to close Guantanamo.” Last September, during a Senate hearing, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reaffirmed to me that he would like to close the facility. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of State Colin Powell have also called for the facility to be closed.

As you know, I have introduced legislation to close the detention facility as expeditiously as possible. My bill would require that high value detainees, including known terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, be transferred to the state-of-the art, maximum security Defense Department prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

I appreciate your support for my petition, for core American values and for the U.S. Constitution.

I hope that on this sixth anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Bush Administration will recognize that it is doing more harm than good.

Thank you for your support.


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