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Twenty Years Later: Guantanamo Bay’s Legacy
ONC Editorial

Jul 22, 2023

Explaining the rife controversy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also known as Gitmo, is located on the U.S. Navy base in Southern Cuba. Since 2002, it has been used by U.S. military officials to hold suspected terrorists, mainly those affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other global terrorist groups. 

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the George Bush administration had strategic intent in holding these captured prisoners outside the U.S. mainland, knowing that this prevented them from being granted the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. 

Since its inception, Guantanamo Bay has been a subject of serious controversy, largely due to human rights reports highlighting its use of brutal torture methods and accusations regarding the detainment of prisoners who have never actually been charged with a crime. Defenders of the base maintain that such unique methods are required to combat the threat of terrorism. 

After 9/11, the Bush administration waged its “war on terror,” and the U.S. implemented many strict protocols to combat terrorism within and outside the country. 

It was at this time that Guantanamo Bay was set up as a temporary base for war detainees; that being said, it is still fully operational today and holds nearly 800 men from 50 different nations. A report by the House Armed Services Committee in 2013 showed that the U.S. spends $2.7 million per detainee at the prison.

Every president since George Bush has faced domestic and international pressures to close Guantanamo Bay permanently. Due to reports of human rights law violations, questions regarding Gitmo’s overall legality, and of the profound expenses that accompany its operation, public outrage has ensued. 

As 2022 progresses, Guantanamo Bay may become a larger topic of concern for President Joe Biden.

Usman Mahmood is a graduate student at the University of Houston, studying Public Administration. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from The University of Texas at Austin. Usman currently works with the Community Assistance Program at the Houston Food Bank and enjoys this opportunity to serve others.


Masters, Jonathan."Guantanamo Bay: Twenty Years Of Counterterrorism And Controversy". Council On Foreign Relations, September 9, 2022. Accessed 21 Jan, 2022.

"The Cost Of Detention At Guantanamo Bay". House Armed Services Committee, June 5, 2013. Accessed 28 Jan, 2022.

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