Tag: Guantanamo

CUBA, Sí

It is still naive to think that the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba are now on a nice glideslope with respect to trade and tourism between the two countries. Similar naive assumptions were made regarding Russia, thinking that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia would naturally take its place in the community of nations. Things did not really pan out that way.

While Cuba is opening its door to the free world, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. Cuba refused humanitarian assistance from the Archdiocese of Miami to aid victims of Hurricane Matthew rebuilding in Eastern Cuba, while accepting aid from Japan. Flights to Cuba on American carriers are half full. And American businesses report they are still preparing to do business with Cuba, not actually doing business. Cuba’s economic growth remains slow, with Venezuelan subsidies decreasing and the “peace dividend” from improved relations with the U.S. hasn’t happened yet. The U.S. – Cuba relationship is not a full blown one yet in the economic, diplomatic, or cultural sense, the lifting of the limit on Cuban cigars notwithstanding.

Two Men’s Tales Tell Story of Guantanamo’s Moral Blight

Reminders of the moral blight that is Guantanamo are never far off, it seems. Today, detainee Mohamedeou Ould Slahi, author of the bestselling Guantanamo Diary, had a hearing to determine whether he can be released, while Abu Zubaydah, the Central Intelligence Agency’s first “enhanced interrogation” detainee, had been expected to testify as a witness in a Guantanamo military commission case.

Slahi, like so many other Guantanamo detainees, has been unlawfully held for nearly 14 years. But he also managed, after his lawyers fought for years for the manuscript’s release, to get his Guantanamo memoir published. The book received rave reviews and has been described as vivid, harrowing, often humorous. The US intended to press charges against Slahi but a military prosecutor refused after learning Slahi’s incriminating statements had been obtained through torture.

Shahi is one of 55 detainees still at Guantanamo who should have had their Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearing years ago. All detainees not yet charged or cleared for release were supposed to get a PRB hearing within a year of Executive Order 13567, issued in 2011. But the first hearing wasn’t held until November 2013. Finally, beginning this year, the administration began scheduling hearings in earnest, announcing 24 of them since January – more than the combined total of the past two years, and holding 10. Though it is good that the pace of PRBs has been stepped up, US President Barack Obama should not have waited until the end of his term to jump-start the process. Of the 30 who have received PRB reviews, 23 have been cleared. The remaining seven are supposed to get second reviews within six months of their denial.