Standort: / Meldung: "Guantanamo - the problem that won't go away"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

11. 1. 2012 - 16:06

Guantanamo - the problem that won't go away

Reality Check: 10 years Guantanamo, "Schuldenbremse", 2 years Haiti earthquake, EU forces changes in Hungary, Republican candidate Ron Paul

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10 years ago today, January 11th, 2002, the first 20 prisoners arrived at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. The camp was set up to providing a facility to hold prisoners captured in the War in Afghanistan, which was launched just under a month after the notorious 9/11 attacks on the USA.

Operation Enduring Freedom

The object of the war, launched under the name "Operation Enduring Freedom", was to capture Osama Bin Laden, with removing the Taliban being just a step along the way, necessary because the Taliban refused to hand Bin Laden over. As has often happened before, the USA imagined Afghanistan turning almost overnight into a west-friendly democracy, grateful to the US for their intervention. As has also happened before, what transpired was almost exactly the opposite. 10 years on, the Taliban insurgency is still going strong, and the government that has taken over is neither particularly democratic nor especially west-friendly.

"the worst of a very bad lot."

While Guantanamo was originally envisaged as a temporary, short term, facility it soon became clear that not only was this conflict going to drag on and on, but also that it would be a lot easier to get prisoners in than to get them out. So began the long and complicated story of "Gitmo". Initially designated as "terrorists" and later as "enemy combatants", instead of the traditional "prisoners of war", the men held in Guantanamo fell outside the Geneva Conventions. Although Vice President Cheney said the detainees were "the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans." it was evident that many of them were simply ordinary civilians who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some had even been sold to the Americans by local leaders in return for the generous bounty the US was offering. But there was no procedure in place for prisoners to be tried, let alone acquitted, because of their "enemy combatant" status.

Torture allegations

Allegations quickly started to emerge of abuses going on inside the camp under the guise of "interrogation". Exposure to loud hip hop music, verbal and physical attacks, desecration of the Koran, as well as more conventional methods of torture such as stress positions, temperature extremes, sleep deprivation and the infamous technique of "waterboarding" were all said to be deployed, and as later investigations showed, were sanctioned from the highest levels of the US government.

International outcry

The international outcry was enormous, and there was huge pressure from anti-torture and human rights groups for the camp to be closed. But closing it would not be that easy. What do you do with the inmates, who may or may not be terrorists? Many had no identification or papers, having been picked up during military operations, and few countries would be very welcoming to former Guantanamo prisoners. Eventually a tribunal system was set up in which inmates could be tried and from the total of 779 prisoners taken to Guantanamo, 171 remain there today. Those that have left have either been released or take to other facilities in the US or abroad.

Obama's failed promise

On taking office in 2009, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo within a year, but he met opposition in Congress.

It was an ambitious aim - and one that was doomed to fail, although that was only partially Obama's fault, according to Cortney Busch of Reprive, who represented many of the prisoners.

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Criticism of the "Schuldenbremse"

German economist, Achim Truger, explains why he believes the thinking behind the "Schuldenbremse" is flawed.

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Haiti 2 years on

It's 2 years since the massive earthquake hit Haiti, but still little has been done to help the desperately poor nation get back on its feet. Jimmy Felter of the Voice of Haiti describes the conditions on the ground to Elizabeth Alcock.

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EU puts pressure on Hungary

The EU may require Hungary to repeal new laws and change its constitution to secure a second round of bailout funds. Vanessa Mock explains why the EU is in a position to tell Hungary to change its laws, and how it may be able to force Budapest to comply.

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Ron Paul

In our series profiling the Republican candidates to face Barack Obama in November, Riem Higazi looks at the career and credentials of Ron Paul.

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