The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has undermined America’s reputation around the globe. The time has come to shut it down and to charge those terrorists who have been caught. Only then will we regain our moral leadership and our ability to rally support in our fight against terrorism. Senator Tom Harkin has introduced legislation to do just that.
S. 1468, the “Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Closure Act of 2007,” would close Guantanamo Bay within 120 days of enactment, and require that criminal detainees be transferred to the maximum security prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The remaining detainees would be transferred to the custody of their home country or a country where they would not fact torture. Harkin’s bill has been endorsed by the nation’s leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch.
This is a very personal issue for Senator Harkin. Thirty-seven years ago Harkin helped to expose the secret tiger cages on Con Son Island in Vietnam, where Viet Cong and North Vietnamese prisoners, as well as civilian opponents of the war, were being held, tortured, and killed with the full sanction of the U.S. Government.
Sadly there are disturbing parallels between that secret prison on Con Son Island and the one in Guantanamo Bay. In both cases, prisons were set up on remote islands so that reporters could not find out what was going on; in both cases, prisoners were not classified as prisoners of war in order to deny them the protections of the Geneva Conventions; in both cases, prisoners were denied of any right to due process, judicial review, or a fair trial; and in both cases, when the abuses were exposed the United States was rightfully accused of hypocrisy, betraying our ideals and violating international law.