Robert N. Taylor

*In the name of the so-called “war against terror,” former President George Bush created an unjust, unfair system at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Under the rules devised by Bush and his advisors, alleged terrorists could be held at the prison indefinitely. They did not have to be charged with a specific crime or act or terror. They could simply be labeled an “enemy combatant” and spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Further, those who were fortunate enough to actually be accused of a specific act of terror and go on trial faced the prospect that even if a military or civilian court found them not-guilty, under the “rules of war” the U.S. reserved the authority to continue to hold them in prison.

This was an amazingly unjust system. In fact, it was an evil system of justice.

Now, President Obama wants to continue the system. He signed an executive order Monday creating a formal system of indefinite detention, a resumption of military trials and continuation of some of the worst aspects of the system created by Bush. Obama’s order will apply to at least 48 of the 172 men still being held at Guantanamo.

Obama’s order comes even though he once denounced what former President Bush had established at Guantanamo. Indeed, roughly two years ago (in another executive order) he vowed to close the prison and give those remaining civilian and not military trials.

Look, I am not here to discuss whether America actually knows what it is doing in the so-called war against terror. But if we claim to be a civilized and democratic nation then our actions must match our words.

Putting a man in prison (possibly for life) and never charging him with a specific offence is not fair, just or democratic. The prisoner is simply given a label (enemy combatant) and never gets a chance to defend himself. And even if he goes to trial and is found not-guilty, U.S. authorities will still hold him in prison (possibly for life).

This was wrong when former President Bush was doing it and it is wrong now that President Obama is doing it. American cannot stand up in the world preaching fairness and justice to other nations as long as it continues with the Guantanamo system. President Obama disappoints me. Instead of ending Bush’s evil; he decided to continue it. Shame! Shame! Shame!

If the men being held at Guantanamo are guilty of something, charge them, take them to trial and give them the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. Anything else is evil.

[Robert Taylor writes the National Black News Journal. Visit him on the web at http://dailyblack.webs.com or share your opinions by emailing him at [email protected].]