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Why is the Guantánamo Bay prison still open?

Two decades of the world’s most notorious prison.

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In 2002, the US opened a prison at its naval base in Guantánamo bay, Cuba. The 9/11 attacks had occurred just months before, and the US was capturing hundreds of men in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It wanted a place to hold and question them. So the Bush administration opened Guantánamo and claimed that it lay outside of US and international law.

The detainees didn’t have to be charged with a crime to be imprisoned and the US could hold them as long as they’d like. By 2003, there were nearly 700 men imprisoned in Guantánamo, but there was backlash from around the world. When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he pledged to close Guantánamo.

But politics quickly got in the way. He was able to decrease the population but faced legal challenges. Ultimately, no president has been able to close Guantánamo because once something is created outside the law, its impossible to bring it back inside the law.

Recommended Reading:

Guantánamo Docket: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/guantanamo-bay-detainees.html

Why Obama Can’t Close Guantánamo, Carol Rosenberg https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2011-12-14/why-obama-cant-close-guantanamo&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1643753301857970&usg=AOvVaw3g28CA5lrd1oHBV4nhOF7c

Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35271522-guant-namo-diary

Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo Bay by Mansoor Adayfi: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56221011-don-t-forget-us-here?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=MrNb7iLTx7&rank=1

The Struggle to Cover Guantanamo Bay by On the Media: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/otm/segments/struggle-cover-guantanamo-bay-on-the-media

Military commissions website: https://www.mc.mil/

Periodic Review Board Website: https://www.prs.mil/Review-Information/Subsequent-Full-Review/

John Bellinger: https://www.lawfareblog.com/guantanamo-bay-twenty-years-later

Ramzi Kassem: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/01/14/biden-gitmo-close-finally/

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