The Guantanamo internment camp will reach the same age as the occupation of Afghanistan in January, 20 years. The war is over, but the prison remains open and an infamous symbol of the procedures used in the global war on terror.
George W. Bush was the one who ordered the construction of this legal limbo, so that the CIA would have a free hand when it comes to persecuting, kidnapping, interrogating and even torturing terrorists, far from any jurisdiction and without the need to attend to the habeas corpus, human rights, war conventions and constitutional guarantees in general.
Obama wanted to close it and could not, although during his presidency the number of detainees fell drastically. It was the congressmen of both parties who prevented his transfer to prisons in the United States. Trump signed an executive order only to step on the White House to keep it open and receive more prisoners. Biden also promised to close it, but before the war is over. The authorization of Congress to the president to free it, the AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) of September 18, 2001. It served to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, but also to justify the massive human rights violations of which Guantánamo is a living and current symbol, since it still maintains 39 detainees, out of a total number of 780 suspected of terrorist activities that have passed through this jail.
The war is over, but its toxic legacy remains. There is abundant secret documentation on human rights violations that calls out for their declassification to support the lawsuits and legal proceedings. This is the case of everything that affects the authorization of torture. The heirs of the 9/11 victims have also asked for the secrecy of the documents that affect the role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks to be lifted, to which Biden has already agreed.
It will not be easy to pay the outstanding bills, but the White House, in the meantime, can do something as useful as close Guantánamo and release the detainees, or take them before the civilian courts, instead of the military as those that are still acting, in some cases with requests for the death penalty. Certainly among the remaining detainees are terrorists as dangerous as those who have just formed a government in Kabul. But worse than releasing them is keeping them incarcerated without trial after nearly 20 years in Washington custody.
It is not just a question of justice, but a derivative of the outcome of the global war on terror. If Washington wants to begin to regain lost confidence and prestige, it should avoid being imprisoned at Guantanamo next January, when the 20th anniversary of its opening will be celebrated.