The people in the Guantanamo Bay prisons were the worst of the worst, Vice President Dick Cheney told us. Then, we learned that among the prisoners were teenage kids. There were seven kids under the age of 18, the Bush Administration reported to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. How could eight teenagers be honestly categorized among the worst of the worst?
Then, in 2008, the Guantanamo Testimonials Project conducted an investigation and discovered that, actually, there were twelve teenage prisoners put into the prisons of Guantanamo Bay. The Bush Administration, confronted with the evidence, admitted that it had lied, and agreed to the new number.
Now, the Guantanamo Testimonials Project has taken advantage of the Wikileaks document release, and searched for more information about juveniles kept prisoner at Guantanamo. In that search, they have found evidence that there are, or were, three more underage Guantanamo prisoners.
That’s a total of 15 kids locked away in Guantanamo prisons, when the government admitted to just 8.
Of course, there could be yet more kids kept imprisoned in Guantanamo – or in other prisons, even more secret, around the world. Our own government has established the practice of keeping large numbers of people prisoner without telling anyone about it.
That’s a plain violation of habeas corpus, the requirement that our government tell who it holds as prisoner, and where, and why. There may have been some temporary rationale for the suspension of habeas corpus in the few days after September 11, 2001. The Constitution allows the temporary suspension of habeas corpus rights in the event of the invasion of the United States. On September 11, 2001, it momentarily appeared that the United States just might be under invasion.
Before too long, though, it became clear that there was no general invasion – just one massive, violent criminal act. The attacks of that one day were not repeated. There was no constitutional basis for the continuation of the suspension of habeas corpus.
Yet, the work of Wikileaks and the Guantanamo Testimonials Project has revealed that, to this day, ten years after 2001, under Barack Obama, our federal government is continuing a de facto suspension of habeas corpus. They’re keeping people prisoner and not telling us about it.
The result of this long-term is the removal of trust. We can’t trust a government that locks people up without following the rules. We can’t know, if we don’t know who is imprisoned, that American citizens aren’t among the captives. We can’t know, aren’t told who is in prison, that imprisonment is being conducted in accordance with the law, and with the Constitution.
We have no reason to trust, when we have been lied to so thoroughly about Guantanamo, that there aren’t yet more lies, and yet more serious breaches of the Constitution taking place.
I remember, when Barack Obama became President, that we would finally get some truth from the federal government about what had been taking place under the War On Terror. What a disappointment Obama has been.