t will get much less attention than last year's 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, says Elizabeth O'Shea in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, but Wednesday marks a decade since "one of the blackest moments of the war on terror: The opening of Guantanamo Bay detention camp." Gitmo still holds 171 of the 779 prisoners who have been detained there — without "a fair trial and the presumption of innocence." Eighty-nine of today's detainees have been cleared for release, but are stuck in limbo after Congress blocked their transfer. Gitmo "represents an affront to the bedrock principles that underpin Western legal systems," O'Shea argues, and "as a society, we have paid a hefty price" for this miscarriage of justice. Here, an excerpt:
The prison has become a vortex of shame. Fundamental legal principles such as the right to due process should be respected regardless of circumstances. Yet the fact that these prisoners were supposedly the ''worst of the worst'' became a blank check to ride roughshod over long-standing legal protections. As members of an international community that values the rule of law, we are a lesser society as a result. ...
We know torture was a mainstay of life in Guantanamo, including beatings, the use of stress positions and psychological torment. ... As Tacitus [senator and historian of the Roman Empire] stated: Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity. Despite the outcry, the camp has remained open, the torture has continued to be justified and no official has been held to account.
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