Hey Rubio, Being Held without Charge or Trial Doesn’t Make You Guilty

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to the State Department asking for assurances that the six Guantanamo detainees transferred to Uruguay in December are not “reengaging in terrorist-related activities.” His concern arises out of reports that Gitmo prisoners released in exchange for Sargeant Bowe Bergdahl have had contact with terrorist organizations.

But when it comes to the Uruguay six, Rubio’s concerns are misplaced—indeed, illogical. The State Department has certified that there was zero indication that these men were ever “involved in conducting or facilitating terrorist activities against the United States or its partners or its allies.”

Rubio’s response: “I find it difficult to believe that we would hold these six men as prisoners for over a decade if they did not pose a direct threat to the United States.”

But case after case has been documented proving that many innocent men were sent to the prison, and many remain without charge or trial more than a decade later. The principle of due process is enshrined in our constitution, and the presumption of innocence before guilt is at the foundation of our legal system. These mens’ mere detention at Gitmo does not indicate guilt in any way.

Rubio’s statement inadvertently gets to the heart of the whole problem of Guantanamo: why does the United States continue to hold more than a hundred men who have not been charged with any crime in seemingly indefinite detention?

It’s not because they’re definitely guilty—that much is clear.

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Published on January 30, 2015

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