Climate change, COVID pandemic, and confrontations among elected officials in local, state, and federal government are all issues we are facing today. However, lurking in the shadows for over 19 years has been another issue that now demands our attention — Guantanamo. The recent movie, The Mauritanian, and action taken by the Biden administration to release a detainee at Guantanamo, focus our attention on this unique US prison.

The detention center at Guantanamo opened in January 2002 to hold detainees from the post-9/11 “War on Terror.” Because many detainees were tortured, and most were held without trial, the US can no longer claim to be a champion of human rights or a nation where the rule of law prevails. Torture is against our moral and religious values which see every person as a person of worth and dignity. Detaining people for years without charge or trial is unconstitutional. All of this comes at a huge expense of $13 million per detainee per year!

Amnesty International, the ACLU, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture are several of many organizations that call for the closing of Guantanamo.

Currently, there are 39 prisoners still at Guantanamo. 10 have been cleared for release yet continue to be held while negotiations with other countries to accept them are ongoing. Others are charged in the military commissions system, and must be brought to the US for trial in US federal courts. Congress has prevented detainees from being transferred to the US by language in the National Defense Authorization Act. The current Congress could help close Guantanamo by passing a NDAA that does not bar transfers to the US.

January 11, 2022 will be 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo. We now have a window of opportunity to finally close it. Write a letter, telephone, sign a petition, use social media to members of Congress and let them know that we want to stop human rights abuses, abide by our legal system and our constitution, and also save $40 million per year. Let’s show Congress and the Biden administration that the American people support the closing of Guantanamo and move beyond this unfortunate chapter in our US history. Close Guantanamo now! Only then can we reclaim that symbol of democracy we represent to our country and the rest of the world.

Donna Boe,

Pocatello