My father was 36 when he was taken to the prison and asked to do anything that President George W. Bush asked him to do.
My father was 36 when he was taken to the prison and asked to do anything that President George W. Bush asked him to do. In all of those years, we never once met President Bush. My father was most severely tortured at Guantánamo. As I get older, I can see the pain and suffering my father was subjected to, and it is now painful to see it inflicted on the innocent.
I was born to a mother of Italian descent who was born in Morocco and a father who was French-Irish and Polish-American. My father is from the same generation as former President Harry Truman, and he holds this distinction in his heart. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, I remember him telling me that he hated what President Kennedy did because our country needed him.
He was married for less than a year to my mother when he was taken to Guantánamo. At the time of his arrest, my mother was having a serious health problem that she had already overcome once. She was pregnant with me at the time of his arrest, and he was taken out of her womb. During the time he was detained in Guantánamo, my mother suffered another health issue that caused her to deliver me prematurely at just 5.8 pounds.
Although my father was born in Cuba, he was a US citizen. He moved to the US around 1964. After 18 years of building an abiding life for himself, working as a science teacher in Boston, my father was snatched by the CIA and sent to Guantánamo. He had never been to Cuba before, and he had never heard of it.
Fifteen years after the release of my father, President Trump has ordered the reopening of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay. President Trump claims that these people were “not bad people,” and are “no longer a problem.” This statement only highlights the arrogance that the whole of America has toward its military detainees, such as Mohammed Jawad, David Hicks, and now Bergdahl.
I have many happy memories of my father, and much regret about his arrest and detention. Because he was a US citizen, I am still fighting for his release. He has spent so much time incarcerated for his convictions that we all really didn’t know what was going on, and we just went along with it.
I was only 9 months old when my father was jailed, and I am hoping that one day the government will release him and start to heal this deeply troubling wound in our country’s history.
A reporter recently asked President Trump how many children were living in Guantánamo at the time of his predecessor’s release of Bergdahl and asked if the return of Bergdahl was happening too quickly. The reporter quoted Trump as saying that “many problems are solved quickly” and asked if there were still prisoners inside the prison who were of a serious concern to the United States.
In a perfect world, America would never detain anybody and do whatever it wants with people who are already “in the system.” Sadly, America has long been a nation that frees those who are not guilty of crimes and detains those who are. After all, these people are not “in the system,” and they do not have lawyers. That’s why President Trump’s intentions are so vile and callous.
These men all served their time in military prisons and were lawfully accused and tried in the system. The courts should have their day in court and go on to prove their innocence or guilt. The United States should never have detained anyone who was innocent to begin with, and that is why our country has been so inconsistent and incoherent on the issue of human rights.
I am so glad that my father was released from Guantánamo, but I am deeply concerned that President Trump is continuing President Bush’s practice of detaining innocent people who have never been charged with a crime and who deserve not just to be released, but to go on to become citizens and thrive in our great country.