In one of his first acts, President Barack Obama ordered the suspension of prosecutions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and its eventual closure within the year.
At the camp, young boys, soldiers, are taught not to respect their prisoners as human beings, that they are animals undeserving of the unalienable rights extended to all other souls by the Constitution of the United States.
In violation of our own sacred ideals, battered men are dragged into closed concrete rooms without trial or counsel and forced to endure days of sleeplessness, hours of physical abuse, mock drowning, isolation, constant fear and worse. Government-sanctioned torture sessions are an affront to all free people of the world and the sanctified pursuit of such practices unavoidably leads to abuse. It’s an unjust method in violation of the law, not just of man, but of any righteous god.
It’s a practice more similar to the acts of totalitarian tyrants than perhaps any ever employed by our government, surpassing in offense to the illegal imprisonment of Japanese-Americans citizens during World War II, which the United States has apologized for time and time again. But our apologies carry little resolve so long as we continue to find ourselves at odds with civil liberty.
In those times, as in ours, the call to ignore the inconvenient beliefs of justice and reason were given weight by seemly desperate circumstances and ignorant leaders. The argument always heard is that our enemies are of a pedigree and belief so volatile there is no way to extend them equal consideration – that we must embrace a state of fear so compelling that the ends excuse all the means leading to them. This path has been walked many times in mankind’s past and the end result can be so horrifying it echoes across a civilization’s history for decades, if not centuries. We as a people, are the direct result of those horrors transgressed by the state at the very hour of our founding.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,” – The Declaration of Independence.
Those responsible for crimes against humanity should be sought out whereever they find harbor, from the mountain frontier of some distant foreign land to the capital in the heart of our own nation; no title, position or privilege ought to ever elevate a man beyond such cruel deeds.
I do believe in rights that there are no exceptions to. The administration of Guantanamo Bay prison, the use of torture, and complete lack of oversight and due process, has caused me more personal distress and anger than perhaps any event ever conducted by our government. It has cast a shadow of doubt across our armed services and political leadership which should never be forgotten. I can think of no clearer demonstration in my lifetime to show such hypocritical abuse of our nation’s power, nor so obvious a disregard for the balances of our system.
Though this is enough, it is but one complaint among many. Good riddance to George Bush, one of our worst presidents in history and his lackey neo-conservative Republicans, who have left a black mark across their party and abandoned our country in utter turmoil.
Although many hard times have fallen in American history, I find comfort in the fact that in those difficult times great men have often arose to meet the occasion, compelled by a restless populace seeking change and hope.
And in such a spirit, I welcome President Barack Obama with all my heart.