Saturday, September 28, 2013

Guantanamo: System failure

By: Divya Achtani

           Guantanamo Bay is a United States military camp located in Cuba. The facility was established during the Bush administration in order to detain and interrogate prisoners so that the United States could have a stronger force against terrorism. Since everyone in the United States has the right to an attorney, the prisoners have defense lawyers working in Guantanamo Bay. While these defense lawyers are expected to use the same government computer systems as the prosecutors and other government works in the area, the computer systems themselves are not very protected and have many failures. For example, because of the low security on these systems, prosecutors have actually had access to many of the private defense emails. Sometimes after system failures, large amounts of defense data and files disappear. In addition, the Pentagon has been watching defense attorney internet searches and monitoring at other private information. The chief defense counsel for the Office of Military Commissions has even asked that the defense counsel no longer use the government computers due to the possibility of compromising attorney-client privilege. Since creating a separate system for defense and prosecutors could take a very long time, members of the defense counsel have to use external hard drives, private email accounts, and some even make their way to Starbucks to use their public Wi-Fi.

            Here in the United States, we have the right to an attorney, the right to a fair trial, etc. We have rights and rules in place so that if an innocent person is wrongly accused, in the end justice will be served, and they will be let go. If they were tried in federal court instead of in Guantanamo Bay, and if the prisoners’ defense attorneys were working back in the United States, this issue of privacy would not even exist. Prosecutors and defenders would have their own computer systems and there would be no risk of having private files seen by opponents or losing data. While it is unfair that the defense counsel in Guantanamo Bay has to go to places like Starbucks to feel ethical while sending private documents, it seems like the best option until a new system can be built. The only other option to protect privacy it seems would be to have the detainees tried in the United States. While the main problem with this is that it is a risk to have these accused terrorists in our country, there are still many terrorists like the 1996 Summer Olympics Atlanta bomber already being tried in federal courts. If the accused terrorists in Guantanamo Bay continue to be tried in that area, there is the risk that the data used as evidence is modified or is false, leading to an unfair trial. We can’t just hold these prisoners forever in Cuba, and we have to hold fair trials, with no privacy concerns. One day, I hope we can finally say “Justice is served”.

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