11 January 2016

Happy Birthday, Guantánamo

TeleSUR English

2015 was supposed to be the year I visited Guantánamo Bay.

I was meant to attend pretrial hearings in April for the five “HVDs”—high-value detainees—held at the prison. The HVDs are accused of involvement in 9/11; topping the list is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

I booked a flight from Beirut to Washington, D.C., and badgered the army official in charge of allocating seats on the plane from Andrews Air Force Base to Guantánamo until I was assured a spot. When I arrived to D.C., however, I was informed that the hearings had been canceled due to complications arising from the FBI’s infiltration of one of the defense teams the previous year.

As defense lawyer Ramzi Kassem had remarked a few months earlier: “The imperatives and mechanics of justice and intelligence gathering are, to a significant extent, incompatible. Nowhere is that contradiction sharper than at Guantánamo, where those two worlds collide.”

This particular observation had been made in response not to the FBI infiltration but rather to the news that one of the interpreters at Guantánamo client was an ex-employee of a CIA black site.

As the prison complex now celebrates its fourteenth birthday—more than seven years after Barack Obama promised to shut it down—worldly collision continues apace. And while it may be clear to any objective observer that “justice” does not exist within the realm of possible outcomes at a U.S. detention camp-cum-torture chamber operated on occupied Cuban territory, the U.S. makes every effort to distract from the bigger picture by cultivating a façade of fairness and respect for human dignity in day-to-day procedures at Guantánamo. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.