Ashamed to be American

The images of soldiers torturing prisoners ruins hopes of being seen as liberators.

New pictures of the torture that went on at Abu Ghraib surfaced last week, once again revealing the level at which the United States has stooped in its many times senseless crusade against terror. On a similar strain, the United Nations released a report detailing the abuses at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush administration dismissed the report as quick as it came out in hopes that the issue be dropped. Sadly, the issue of Guantanamo and the Dick Cheney-approved torture that has gone on in Abu Ghraib and likely in other secret prisons will not go away anytime soon. The images of U.S. soldiers torturing prisoners and stabbing at the dignity of defenseless and probably innocent detainees is burned into the memory of Muslims and eviscerates any hopes of American soldiers being seen as benevolent liberators.

The appalling injustice at Guantanamo, like the Japanese detention centers of the Roosevelt era, will stain the history of the United States for decades to come. But it is not the legacy of the Bush administration or that of the United States that truly matters at this point.

Rather, it is that Guantanamo detainees were detained arbitrarily and are still being detained without ever being charged or facing trial. If a country, say Iran or North Korea, arbitrarily kidnapped U.S. citizens, placed them in a secret prison and tortured them mentally and physically with no end in sight, hatred truly would be unfurled.

Many of the 500 Guantanamo inmates have been held uncharged for four years. As you read this, the U.S. military is forcing tubes down the throats of hunger striking detainees. They are asking for a trial. The least we can do is give them one and end the evil that is being done in our names. The way we have ripped innocent people from their peaceful lives and tortured and ridiculed them represents the utmost hypocrisy of founding American ideals. And every minute that Guantanamo detainees suffer in an abyss created by our military, is a minute that should increase our shame at being American.