January 11th, 2012
02:49 AM ET

Ten years of 'Gitmo' - and more to come

Exactly 10 years ago Wednesday, the first batch of terrorist suspects seized in Pakistan and Afghanistan arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on board a C-141 transport plane. From freezing nights in the depths of the Afghan winter, the 20 detainees stepped into a tropical breeze looking dazed and bedraggled.

As more arrived over the next weeks, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described them as the "the worst of the worst." And a few weeks after GTMO (as it quickly became known) opened its doors, President George W. Bush said the detainees were not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions - because they were not part of a regular army.

Guantanamo's population grew rapidly to a maximum of 680 the following year, and expanded beyond "Camp X-Ray" to other blocks. In those early days, Human Rights Watch says, detainees were subject to "painful stress positions, extended solitary confinement, threatening military dogs, threats of torture and death" and other abuses. The Bush administration, while insisting enhanced interrogation techniques did not amount to torture, contended that exceptional methods were legitimate in the face of an ongoing threat from terrorism.

Over the past decade, the very word Guantanamo has become a touchstone in the debate over how democracy can protect itself from terror while not denying access to justice. It has also become a byword for political point-scoring and the subject of bitter argument in federal court over the principle of habeas corpus. It has found its way into popular culture, featured in Michael Moore's film "Sicko" and a Patti Smith song.

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Filed under: U.S. • World
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Ten more years, ten more years...

    January 11, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. gung hoe

    Mourning JIFER.Well theres another of the campain promisis that the president made that went unkept!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Morning, gung hoe.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. hamsta

    Maybe obama finally realized they have one goal-kill americans.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. gung hoe

    Morning hammy been reading your post seems as if we have quite a bit in common.Man to listen to him during his campaign,youd have thought gw commited murder at gitmo.Funny thing is he never wouldve gotten bin laden w o gitmo

    January 11, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    We could have housed them next to your house, gung and hammy.
    Would that have made you feel better about Obama's descisions?

    Just keep playing the hate game.
    It fuels you two, I know.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. hamsta

    @banasy sure send them on over,if the gangstas down the street can get rid of the bloods and crips im sure they would be glad to dispose of terrorists for u.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. hamsta

    cnn moderators are so anti american they wont allow me to ask u a simple question pertaining to the reason we were able to win ww2 but are unable to rid the world of terrorism.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    @banasy all that I was refering to was that the president when he was running for office stated that he was going to have gitmo closed within 3 months of taking office,basically called gw a idiot for haveing it opened and for the waterboarding that he later used the information to get bin laden .But thats ok with me as it rid the world of a piece of crap!I dont personally care who got him,but I was only stating the fact not picking a argument with anyone!

    January 11, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |