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Anastasios Karayianidis:
2010 Winner
P.S. 122

Anastasios Karayianidis

Winning Essay

On his first day in office, President Barack Obama, vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. A year has passed, and while the detention camp remains open, President Obama still pledges to close the military base. The President’s persistence on this matter is nothing short of reasonable, practical, moral, and necessary action. President Obama’s vow to close the doors to the military base, which stands isolated on the southeastern region of the island of Cuba, is a profound dedication. Closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp is a good idea because of several key reasons. The land America controls in Cuba is being run under conditions that it was not legally intended to,under the agreement and conditions it agreed to. Another reason is due to how the Detention Camp has become a detainment facility that is being illegally run, due to the pressurizing force of torture. And finally, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, since its opening in 2002, has become a symbol of hatred, dislike, war, and death. It has become its own symbol, one in which the U.S. does not stand for. The United States of America has undergone 8 harsh years of a scrutinizing reality. It has been harboring detainees in Cuba under a reasoning that would prohibit such a facility, otherwise. The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp’s closing is an idea that we should believe in its entirety. The dislocation of hundreds of detainees would be a problem that can easily be solved. The outcome of its closure would lead to the opening of new hope and a new way of handling the issue that Guantanamo has brought and raised.

The United States assumed control of Guantanamo Bay in 1903, under the Cuban American Treaty. Guantanamo Bay was received by the United States under the conditions that it was land necessary for coaling, or, a naval base due to its strategical location. As years have passed by,  after the Cuban Revolution, the naval base had become anything but a naval base. Its use as a detainment facility is a violation against the legal purposes of the land. Although the United States does control the land, the presence of the Detention Camp signifies disobedience and arrogance by the American government. The Detention Camp should be closed due to how it should not even exist under law. In 2002, it was opened to house suspected masterminds and plotters of the September 11th attacks in New York City and war criminals of Afghanistan. Since then, the facility has grown to act as a reminder to criminals and those who plan on harming innocent American lives. The problem is, the reminder that the Detention Camp acts as is one that is flawed. The Supreme Court, in 2008, called the Bush administration out, against its antiwar policies. It brought a legal blow, due to how it ruled that detainees in Guantanamo, “have the right to challenge their detention in federal court.” The fact that their very presence in the facility is deemed unlawful by the supreme law of the land is a statement that needs to reach all branches of government to realize that the Guantanamo naval base that it was intended to be used as, has become a military base where the operations and facilities run are questioned upon their validity in the face of American law and international law. Why is America risking its reputation as a nation of honest and judicial truth, when it is stumbling upon hypocritical accusations. The Bush administration was blinded by America’s misfortunes but the current administration’s voice has pierced some sense into the effect of Guantanamo.

Another reason Guantanamo’s Detention Camp should be closed, is because it is being run illegally. Detainees are being treated under the worst conditions, physically, mentally, and legally. They are being abused. Torture tactics, such as waterboarding, have been used to gain answers. Shamefully, the former Vice President Dick Cheney condemns and supports torture in its fullest essence of dangerous means. The need for torture tactics shows us the desperation in the American government. Answers could be obtained through tactics that are less harmful and objective to criminals. Temperatures are kept at uncomfortably cold conditions causing sensory deprivation. Lights are kept on all day, around the clock, making it extremely difficult for the detainees to sleep, causing sleep deprivation. Suicides have been reported in large numbers considering the number of those that have been captured. Physical, derogative, and inappropriate, acts of violence are also perpetrated upon the foreign criminals. Religious abuse has taken place. Religious texts have been defaced. The Koran has been flushed down toilets to scar the beliefs of the many Muslims. Families have been forcefully separated. Detainees have been force-fed. Those with disabilities have been damaged in ways they could never conceive of imagining. The abuse and torture detainees go through is unacceptable. Being reminded that they are high leveled criminals, such actions are unimaginable to be perpetrated on a human being. To scar the lives of such victims of poor judgment will get America nowhere and Guantanamo no step closer to what it has been reconfigured to be. To indulge in such behavior is torturous. The long term effect is that they would only be more inspired and charged to engage in killing and harming lives of Americans and others. May we be reminded our Constitution writes that, “all men are created equal.” With that in mind, we should always know that those who make bad choices, disregarding their magnitude and effect on others and society, always have a beginning. By reaching that beginning we are able to see where it all went wrong. Guantanamo Bay’s Detention Camp is a dirty, filthy, disgusting, and impulsive center in which acts of horror and hate are taken upon without any criminal charges against those guarding the facilities. In 2004, the Highest Court rejected Bush’s claim to have the authority to seize and detain terror suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or lawyers. Recently, terror suspects were also read their Miranda rights. If our judicial system sees these detainees to be equal, enough to even have their Miranda rights heard, then what do we truly consider these detainees. The fact that the executive branch has been pressing for military tribunals for these detainees shows us why the Detention Camp has to go. Guantanamo has caused legal battles that should not have to faced. Why aren’t federal courts enough? Why do we, America, feel the need to treat criminals of war and terrorism, differently than an American citizen on a murdering spree? Guantanamo Bay’s Detention Camp should close because it is not being used properly. It is a site where America is anything but the nation that we praise today. It is a site where imperfection of the human soul lies evidently in putrid ways. The site is ground zero to where we the government mishandled violence, and suspected terrorism, upon its own soil.

Finally,  the prison in Guantanamo should be closed and shutdown due to the harm it has caused to America and its reputation. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the Obama administration had no other choice but to order the shutdown of Guantanamo due to how, “the name itself is a condemnation” of U.S. anti-terrorism strategies. For nearly a decade since the morning of September 11, 2001, a, “war on terror”, has been an excuse for the Presidency to order the actions that take place in Guantanamo. Whether a war terror has been waged by the U.S. or not, it’s not excuse to see torture substitute interrogations, to receive intelligence. Guantanamo Bay’s Detention Camp has scared America’s reputation as a nation of justice. No justice has been brought out of that detention facility. Injustice cannot merely describe what Guantanamo has served to America. Many allies and nations around the globe have questioned the U.S.’s use of Guantanamo Bay. Why are we tearing apart the rule book that we’ve been following by for hundreds of years? Why is this rule book, our Constitution, being ignored. Guantanamo Bay has brought out the worst of us. Closing it would put an end to the message that was being sent to others. America never has, nor will, tolerate torture. Closing Guantanamo would allow us to deal with our domestic issues solely.

The obvious result of closing Guantanamo, however, would leave America with many high profile criminals to be free from the jurisdiction in Guantanamo and to face American law, not that Guantanamo isn’t America, none the less. What could be done is send these criminals and terrorists into highly secured prisons in the United States. Prisons such as “super max” prisons, where not one prisoner has ever escaped. Prisons such as Alcatraz of the mid-1900’s. Prisons can embody tough mentalities but should avoid crippling the appeal of American values to the world and the general public. Regarding their trials, they should be in federal courts. The Obama administration should not send any detainees back to their home land or to foreign nations, primarily due to how they can easily go back to their inhumane ways. America handling this issue first hand will allow us to hear the last of Guantanamo once and for all. We can be able to use the land and naval base for a more purposeful contribution. All the detainees should be handled by their individual cases.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is where America earned land as a result of the Spanish American War. Since then, the region of Cuba, for nearly a hundred years, has been misguided, misused, and misled. The Detention Camp at Guantanamo has fenced many of the worst human beings on this Earth. It has been the location of legal issues, moral issues, and America’s issue. America’s issue being that we have had the worst of troubles regarding the result of war and violence. The Detention Camp in Guantanamo must be closed. It must be closed due to how it is misused, it is where detainees are wrongfully treated, and where America is displayed as a low minded nation of a poor sense of reality. It must be closed due to how it has not helped America to what many perceived as its potential in 2002. President Obama’s pledge to close this site must be the first statement that captured hope on the land, ever. It captured hope, because America can be put out of its misery. Misery that many can blame on the criminals and terrorists themselves. It is said that as Americans, we wish to see some closure after 9/11 took its course. It is said we’ve been victims of “the war on terror”. And through all possible connections, Guantanamo Bay is always in the middle of this discussion. When Obama took office, he captured the significance of this very issue by making it his first course of action on the job. Closing this site may take time, but rest assured, its closure can only make America more conscience of its reality and its future.


I am an 8th grade student attending my final year at Public School 122. At P.S. 122, Academy of the Intellectually Gifted, I am thankful to have been able to experience a wonderful enrichment of opportunistic determination and motivation towards fulfilling the best from my abilities to achieve whatever I strive for. My time at P.S. 122 allows me to reflect on a variety of memories that have impacted me in many different ways. Memories in which I have been able to learn from, memories which I have been able to obtain hope from, and memories which have inspired me in pursuing what is best for my future and for the world.

My time in P.S. 122 has allowed me to learn more about myself and about the person I wish to become. Regarding subjects, I refrain from specifically focusing on one, as all aspects of knowledge offer something to learn from. I enjoy all subjects, whether social studies, mathematics, English, or science. The reason is due to how they are all interconnected with one another, which brings the ability to exercise different skills. Similarly, I feel the same about sports. I do follow and play baseball more, though, as I try to always be active.

As I exit from P.S. 122, I am entering Brooklyn Technical High School in my upcoming school year. I am looking forward for my future, as a high school student, due to the opportunity to experience a new environment and to learn from new memories. Brooklyn Technical High School is certainly a school I am looking forward to due to how it offers me a world in which I can thrive in and to be able to make the best out of to handle future circumstances and situations. It offers me what I wish to do with my life. I envision myself as one who is in the fields of engineering, science, technology, or athletics. None the less, I look forward for the next four years due to how I feel they are an opportunity for me to find myself and my place in life. What I expect is nothing short of what I have been able to be apart of in P.S. 122, a reality engulfed with a variety of experiences and memories that make me who I am today.

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