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Should the U.S. close the prison at Guantánamo?

There are 395 terrorism suspects being held at a high-security prison at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Five years after the Guantánamo Bay prison was opened to detain terror suspects, it has been a failure by almost any measurement. It has become a global symbol of injustice, is counterproductive in U.S. efforts to combat terrorism, and has diminished our country's ability to promote human rights abroad.

The Bush administration has labeled the detainees there "vicious killers … the worst of a very bad lot." Yet not a single one has been convicted or even tried. Only 10 have even been charged.

Treatment and conditions of detention are ongoing concerns. Charges of torture and ill-treatment have been frequent and well-founded.

Few Americans could ever have imagined that our own government, even in the pursuit of security, would betray bedrock human-rights principles by holding hundreds of people indefinitely without charge or trial for years. But what was once unthinkable has now become grim reality.

The tarnished reputation of the U.S. as a law-abiding and human-rights-respecting country suffers further each day the camp remains in operation. There is only one way to fix this mess. All detainees in Guantánamo should be charged immediately with a recognized crime and tried fairly—or released.

Lawlessness is not the answer to terrorism. The only way to achieve real security for our country is to return to our founding principles of adherence to the law and justice for all.

The prison at Guantánamo Bay has become the antithesis of American values. It needs to be shut down.

Curt Goering
Amnesty International

Last year, I visited the prison facilities at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. Closing down this prison, which is crucial to our overall efforts in the war on terror, would be detrimental to the safety of all Americans.

Guantánamo holds some of the world's most dangerous killers and it serves as a vital resource for gathering intelligence on what the terrorists may be planning next.

The terrorists being held there are the worst of the worst we have captured. The military has decided that they are so dangerous that they must be moved halfway around the world to keep them off the battlefield.

We are also gaining valuable information from these detainees. During my visit, I toured the facilities and witnessed some interrogations. I did not see anything that led me to believe we should shut down the prison.

The detainees can identify people involved in terrorist groups. They have helped us better understand the structure of terrorist organizations. They know locations and transportation routes. They can validate information gathered on the battlefield. Useful intelligence has been gathered at Guantánamo. It has saved American lives.

We have a determined enemy that wants to do nothing but harm us. The only way to beat them is to stand stronger, fight together, and not back down.

What we are doing at Guantánamo is a key part of our fight. Every terrorist at Guantánamo is one less enemy of the United States and our allies planning attacks on freedom-loving people across the globe.

Senator Jim Bunning
Republican of Kentucky