As I sit here pondering what I shall write about on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a sudden thought crossed my mind. I had read several headlines marking the 10 year anniversary of Guantánamo Bay. For those of you not familiar, Guantánamo is a military prison which President George W. Bush and his administration opened shortly after the September 11th attacks on the United States.
Meanwhile, during his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama pledged to shut down Guantánamo, which had been the subject of criticism due to its human rights abuses towards prisoners, should he be elected president of the United States. It has been nearly four years since Mr. Obama became the 44th president of the United States, yet Guantánamo continues its operations.
There’s an article, which you can read here, written by Lakhdar Boumediene, a former detainee, who describes his “nightmare” inside Guantánamo. Bosnia’s highest court ordered Mr. Boumediene’s release after it ruled that the evidence and claims against him by the US government were incorrect. But that didn’t stop the US from detaining Mr. Boumediene illegally, as he and several others were “tied up like animals” and shipped off to Guantánamo.
For the next seven years, Mr. Boumediene was subjected to cruel and harsh conditions such as being “kept awake for many days straight” or being “forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time.” He finally had a hearing in 2008 and was subsequently released; however, the damage had been done as Mr. Boumediene wanted to forget about his entire ordeal in Guantánamo.
Recently, President Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). There appear to be a couple of provisions in it that some legal experts argue will “authorize the military to indefinitely jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect–without charge or trial.”
It’s not difficult to see how these provisions are an assault on our civil liberties–Chris Hedges provides a more sobering and more eloquent account here. It is now easy for the US to detain any person–and not to mention send that person to Guantánamo–it wants for as long as it wants simply by qualifying that person as a suspected terrorist, evidence or not. Don’t think so? Ask Lakhdar Boumediene.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a well known activist and orator of civil rights, as he opined for equality for everyone regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender and so forth. Little did Dr. King know that one day we would be witnessing a steady erosion of our civil liberties as we are seeing with the Patriot Act, and now with the provisions in the 2012 NDAA.
If we are not careful, we may all soon be writing about our own Guantánamo nightmare as we are being stripped of all our civil liberties in the name of national security.