Closing Gitmo: A Return to Ethics in the U.S.

As many of you are probably aware, one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to close the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Apparently, that promise is about to come to fruition. According to one of the president-elect’s advisors, he may issue the order as soon as he takes office. The biggest stumbling block remains what to do with the detainees.

This is one of the most hopeful statements I’ve seen in quite some time.  Of the many things I grew up believing about our country, one in which I always took pride was “The United States does not torture. The United States  abides by the Geneva Convention.” I took that belief with me into the military, and what happened at Guantanamo made me feel that the uniform I wore was disgraced because of it. Hopefully that disgrace is coming to an end.

The last eight years have been, if not enjoyable, very instructive. I’ve seen a side to my countrymen that I would have previously denied. While I believed that we were a little tarnished, I never thought we would stand by and not only watch, but cheer, while our government perpetrated horrible offenses against our Constitution.  As with most problems, it’s going to take far longer to correct it than it took to let it go wrong. We have so many problems we don’t even know where to start. Our economy is in ruins, civil rights have been slashed, our health care is a joke, and we are seen as arrogant bullies with big mouths on the world stage. I can only take comfort in the fact that with President-elect Obama’s inauguration, the world finally sees that we DO want to change for the better.

Guantanamo Bay detainment camp is a dark spot on our country’s history. Let us not forget how far we can go down the road of fascism. At the same time, let us celebrate the beginning of our walk back toward reason and ethics. Let us once again become the beacon of democracy and protectors of the weak that we believe ourselves to be.