It's been ten years since the infamous military prison, Guantanamo Bay, was opened under the Bush administration and while Obama campaigned in 2008 on the promise he would close the facility within one year; the end is nowhere in sight.
The anniversary sparked numerous protests around the world including a three-day hunger strike by the prisoners. In Washington, human-rights groups marched down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Supreme Court. Many protesters wore orange jumpsuits and black hoods, an image that has become synonymous with the prison.
Legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Baher Azmy, said “I know President Obama reiterated his pledge to close Guantanamo, but it’s not clear why we should believe him."
In March of 2011, Obama singed an executive order The Washington Post said "will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military camp" and "all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in the U.S. counter terrorism policy."
Since 2002, 779 suspected terrorists have been held at the military prison and about 600 have been released, most under the Bush administration, with no charges after years of detainment.
At least 15 minors have been detained, the youngest being 13 at the time of his arrest. The U.S. government admits that 92 percent of those imprisoned were not al-Quaida fighters and of the 8 deaths, 6 are suspected to have been suicide.
The American Civil Liberties Union found that "Prisoners were subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, extreme temperatures and prolonged isolation" and called it a "perverse laboratory" for severe interrogation methods.
The National Defense Authorization Act has barred the transfer of prisoners for at least a year and places new restrictions on the transfer to foreign countries. Gitmo currently holds 171 prisoners while 89 have been approved for transfer but remain and only 6 have been convicted by a military commission.
Ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, said “Between restrictions on transferring detainees to the U.S. and restrictions on transferring them to foreign countries, you’ve got a situation in Guantanamo where once you put people there, there’s nowhere you can send them.”
After threatening to veto the bill, Obama signed the NDAA on New Year's Eve which allows indefinite detainment of American citizens suspected of terrorist activity without trial and requires it of non-citizens.
Congress is now considering passing the Enemy Expatriation Act which gives the U.S. government the authority to strip anyone suspected of "hostilities against the United States" of their citizenship.
If passed, the government can accuse anyone they see fit of being hostile to the United States, strip them of their citizenship and use NDAA to indefinitely detain them; without convicting the accused in a court of law.
The executive director of the National Security Network, Heather Hurlburt, said "Here we are, 10 years after Guantanamo opened, with Osama bin Laden dead, and we see Congress coming anew with this effort to re-militarize the struggle against terrorism."
There have been no steps made towards closing Guantanamo, which spends $150 million on detention operations per year and $70 million on the 89 prisoners that have been cleared for transfer, while the governments authority to indefinitely imprison anyone they wish has been increased.