Monday, December 7, 2009

Guantanamo Bay as a moral place

Flipping through the pages of various newspapers, I noticed that there were a lot of articles discussing how Obama will, admittedly, miss his proposed January 2010 deadline of closing down Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay is an American detainment facility located in Cuba, that is used to hold suspected terrorists and war criminals believed to pose a serious threat to the national security of the United States. As I read these different articles, I noticed that this issue sparked heated debate around Guantanamo as a moral place. As the Toronto Star article entitled “How to empty Guantanamo” shows, there are those who think that it should not be closed. These proponents who are mostly Republican and were members of the Bush administration, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, believe that it is a place that helps fight America’s “war on terror” by holding captive dangerous suspected terrorists. To them, Guantanamo Bay is a moral place because it serves the good of the nation through protecting the safety and security of all Americans. They believe that all of the activities that occur at Guantanamo are justified because it is done for the good of the American people. For them, the “ends” justifies the “means”.

On the other hand, there are opponents of Guantanamo Bay, such as Obama, who do not see it as a moral place. As he states, it is a “misguided experiment” that sets back the U.S.’s “moral authority”. This is believed mostly because of the accusations of cruelty and torturous acts that occur in Guanatanamo Bay. There are many reported incidents of torture involving “interrogation techniques” to extract information from prisoners such as sleep deprivation, beatings, druggings, sexual assault and waterboarding. In light of these immoral acts, many want the facility to be shut down and agree with Obama when he expressed that “I believe strongly that torture is not moral…any program of detention and interrogation must comply with the Geneva Conventions, Conventions on Torture and the Constitution.”

For the wide majority of the public, Guantanamo constitutes what Robert Sack would consider an “evil place”. It is narrow and obscures our vision by cutting itself off from the rest of the world. It is isolated as a place of secrecy with maximum security, no access for outsiders and little contact with the outside world. It also asserts control over other places, occupying an area of land claimed by the United States on foreign soil.

The debate over whether Guantanamo Bay should be shut down by the Obama administration shines light onto the many moral issues that arise from such a place. In viewing the moral dimensions of places, like Guantanamo Bay, it provides us with an overall, greater understanding of place.

Articles found here:

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