September 18th, 2012
The name Guantanamo Bay can incite different feelings in people depending upon their views about United States Policy. However, few individuals can deny the controversy surrounding this detention center. Some see it as a monument to the war on terrorism. Others see it in direct contradiction of America’s stand on human rights. The actions that have taken place within its walls can be traced to two Presidential Decrees changing the status of prisoners and redefining the meaning of torture.
The first Presidential Decree involved reclassifying the status of prisoners within the facility. Instead of prisoners of war, certain prisoners were redefined as “enemy combatants.” This action lifted the protection of the Geneva Convention; which requires detention facilities to guarantee specific rights to prisoners. Since these “combatants” are longer protected, civil and human rights could be denied. The second Presidential Decree changed the definition of torture. In the past torture was considered any act that degrades or harms a person. According to the new definition, torture is defined as an act that leaves a lasting psychological effect or is physically fatal. Under of these decrees, the inmates at Guantanamo Bay experienced treatment that had never been seen in American history.