Following the national security attacks on September 11, 2001, former president George W. Bush launched a “War on Terror.”
The environment was similar to that of the Red Scare in the 1920s. Suspected Muslims and Brown ethnic groups were incarcerated in masses with the sole reason for their detainment being their religion and ethnicity.
9/11 was one of the most tragic days in American history, with over 2000 deaths; what felt like a fever dream to many, left citizens speechless, turning to the authority that is the president for consolation.
However, 9/11 led to even more suffering, as the Bush Administration funded the creation of an illegal and in-humane detainment center for suspected Muslims on the coast of Guantanamo Bay.
Prisoner Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, was detained, like many other Guantanomo Bay prisoners, for suspected involvement with Al-Qaeda. His illustrations of the interrogation process and torture methods used on him and other prisoners gripped people’s hearts around the world. Despite being banned by international law, the torture Abu Zubaydah and other prisoners underwent consisted of specific C.I.A. techniques that, according to the NY Times, were approved, described, and categorized in memos prepared in 2002 by the Bush administration.
While under arrest, Abu Zubaydah became the first person known to be waterboarded and crammed into a small confinement box by the C.I.A. Such actions were taken as part of what the Seton Hall study called “a constantly rotating barrage” of methods meant to break what interrogators believed was his resistance.
It was later found that Abu Zubaydah had no knowledge about the 9/11 attacks prior to them being committed, nor was he a member of Al Qaeda. He was also never actually charged with a crime in court, and prosecutors have no intention of doing so.
Over a decade later, under the label of enhanced interrogation techniques, the United States continues to operate the prison with similar torture methods.
From waterboarding to force-feeding, the torture has proved to be unnecessary, as the resulting confessions are lies told in an attempt to stop the suffering. The prisoners, in their battered state, are willing to confess to crimes they have not committed so that they may be released from their stress positions and agonizing confinements.
One of such cases included that of Fouad Al Rabiah. According to CNN, the judge that tried Al Rabiah, Judge Kollar-Kotelly, said his confessions were so inconsistent and implausible that even the interrogators did not believe him.
“It is also undisputed that Al Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed,” Kollar-Kotelly said in a 65-page opinion.
The ineffectiveness and unconstitutionality of the internment camps prompted the Obama administration to outlaw the program and partly declassify a Senate study that found the C.I.A. lied about both its effectiveness and its brutality. However, more than a decade later, the prison is still running and forty prisoners remain in inhumane conditions, with each prisoner, according to the NY Times, costing the US 13 million dollars in federal funding.
In 2008, the Obama Administration promised, tried, and failed to close the prison down. Now, with President Biden taking office, there is a glimmer of hope for the long-forgotten prisoners. As president, it is necessary for Biden to take action against the maintenance of the prison by firstly offering a fair trial for each prisoner, secondly, instating federally funded mental rehabilitation for torture victims, and lastly, a formal apology to the people and families of both innocent prisoners, and 9/11 families waiting for justice.
It is imperative when trying to preserve American justice, to close down such an unjust institution doing nothing but intimidating already subjugated religious and ethnic minorities.