‘Guantanamo Diary’ Author Released
English major Will Edick explores the complicated web of Guantanamo Bay
On October 17th, a man who has been imprisoned since I was a child was finally released from Guantanamo Bay. A man labeled as not only a terrorist, but regarded as one of the most dangerous men on the planet by the United States Government. Sadly, the government was wrong. Fifteen years ago this man was torn away from his friends, family, and country. He then spent close to a year being interrogated by Jordanian authorities, several months in an American base in Afghanistan, and in 2002 was transported to Guantanamo Bay, where he remained until his release several weeks ago. This man’s freedom was stolen and his identity sabotaged by the country that claims to be the land of the free. His basic human rights were violated on the account of the American government tying him to a foiled terrorist attack known as the Millennium Plot; a plot that he truly did not have any connection to.
His name is Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Born in the small country of Mauritania, he attended college in Germany where he studied to be an electrical engineer. In the early 1990s Slahi joined Al-Qaeda to fight against the Communist regime that was in power in Afghanistan, but after the regime fell all of his ties were cut. The tricky part about this is that his time spent in Al-Qaeda was when America sided with Al-Qaeda to combat a communist backed government in Afghanistan. Not only was Slahi stolen from his country, he was betrayed by a previous ally.
Slahi, like an immense majority of Guantanamo Bay prisoners never had charges laid against him, was never indicted by a military tribunal, or given the exact reasoning for his imprisonment. The reason why the prisoners of Guantanamo face these problems is because they are taken in as enemy combatants, and the fact they are not held on American soil which means detainees are not protected by the American constitution. Even though detainees are labelled as enemy combatants, many were not acting out against the United States or diffinitively linked to terrorism at all when they were abducted.
Slahi, knew that he was being held unconstitutionally and inhumanely by Americans, and so, after teaching himself English, he was able to request his right to Habeas Corpus. An American judge granted said request and stated that the evidence and allegations against Slahi was not enough for the country to keep him imprisoned. This decision was appealed by the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration in 2012, and the appeal was never settled before Slahi was released. According to Human Rights First, a United States nonpartisan and nonprofit human rights organization, over 700 detainees have now been released from Guantanamo without an indictment from the Department of Justice. The organization also stated that over 90% of all detainees in Guantanamo spent over ten years of their life imprisoned there.
Now here is a bigger problem with Guantanamo Bay. Slahi wrote a memoir “Guantánamo Diary” where he recounts his time being tortured at the hands of the United States. He, like every other inmate, was subjected to countless techniques that the government referred to as “advanced interrogation techniques”. This is the type of political euphemism that George Orwell explained is “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”. Slahi gives insight to the many types of torture he and other detainees were subjected to in his memoir. Detainees were beaten, forced to stay awake for long periods of time, forced to spend time in extreme cold or noise, have their friends and family threatened, forced to stand in certain positions for countless hours, and were sexually humiliated. Slahi mentions times in his memoir when he would lie awake at night listening to the screams of his fellow inmates.
A lesser-known problem contributing to the false imprisonments of Guantanamo Bay is how the United states utilizes its status as a military power and unjustly abuses other countries sovereignty justified in the name of the “War on Terror”. The United States enters into small countries, which violates their sovereignty, by exploiting its power to essentially kidnap civilians. Before I read Guantánamo Diary I had never heard of the country Mauritania. There is very little these smaller countries can truly do to protect their citizens.
Ultimately, the problem with Guantanamo Bay is the neglect for Human rights, other nations sovereignty, and the flat out lies that are being sold to the American people about Guantanamo Bay. America is meant to be the country that stands against human rights violations like this. Guantanamo Bay will stand as a dark symbol for The United States for years to come, even after it is hopefully closed down. Ideally it will stand as a symbol that keeps this country from repeating the same mistake. When President Obama ran for office the first time around, he promised to close Guantanamo Bay. We are still waiting Obama; you only have several months left.