Dear 100 Hour Board,
Hey, I have two friends with strong, opposing convictions about the U.S. Naval prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One, who is extremely conservative, believes its your run of the mill prison of war camp where people are happy. The other, who's deeply Liberal, believes its a horror house where people are arrested and tortured for having the wrong skin color, and stand no chance of having a fair trial for committed crimes. Both feed me massive amounts of propaganda, that doesn't really tell me much of anything. When I look it up, all I can find is extremely biased information on the subject, leaving me back where I started in the first place.
So, I was wondering if you guys could help me out a little. What are your views on this, and is there any information on it that isn't biased that I can base an opinion on?
- Thanks a lot, from the guy who's confused about a prison.
It's hard to find an unbaised opinion about Guantanamo Bay. The BBC has a reputation for providing unbiased information, but some would argue that that reputation is unearned. A 2003 documentary done by the BBC presented interviews from both Guantanamo military personnel and recently released Guantanamo detainees, but the format of the presentation was essentially "Military claim, Detainee rebuttal. Repeat." It gave very little room for one to have faith in the U.S. military.
Personally, I have strong concerns about Guantanamo Bay. Since the prison is not on U.S. Territory, the military claims that detainees have no legal right to constitutionally guaranteed legal rights. I find this to be a weak argument, but I don't have the legal background to know how accurate it is. What I find more appalling, though, is that the military tribunals carried out there are often run by people having no legal training. The detainees at Guantanamo are said to exist in a "legal black hole," with no legal recourse available to them. As stated on Wikipedia,
The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that, "Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law."Ultimately, the problem with getting an unbiased opinion is that it's hard to know which side of the fence you're on when nobody can see the fence. The U.S. military has been very restrictive in allowing free information out about the conditions inside Guantanamo Bay, and as a result, we are forced to make assumptions based on imperfect information.
In the end, this answer doesn't really leave you any better off than you were before. But at least you have my opinion now.