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Q: Rights of U.S. on foreign soil; militant combatants @ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Rights of U.S. on foreign soil; militant combatants @ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: menext-ga
List Price: $13.33
Posted: 17 Aug 2006 20:21 PDT
Expires: 16 Sep 2006 20:21 PDT
Question ID: 757202
***Concerning a U.S. military base located in foreign land (Osan
located in South Korea or Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba), does the
United States and the U.S. military OWN the land and the freedom to do
whatever they (U.S. military) like with it?  (say, without prior
approval from the host country?)  There might be a large degree of
ambiguity in your findings, any explanation would be acceptable...

***What if I walk onto a U.S. embassy located on foreign land, does
the land on which the embassy resides belong to the U.S, including the
freedom to do whatever they (U.S. military) like with it?

***What is the advantage, if any, to holding "militant combatants" on
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base?

Clarification of Question by menext-ga on 17 Aug 2006 20:29 PDT
! Concerning "advantages to holding 'militant combatants' ", I mean
advantages versus holding the combatants on other U.S. military bases
around the world or in military facilities within the United States;
if there is actually (a) good reason(s) for holding such combatants on
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base that has already been expressed, I'd like to
see the cut-and-paste, thanks. :)
Subject: Re: Rights of U.S. on foreign soil; militant combatants @ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Answered By: tisme-ga on 17 Aug 2006 20:44 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello menextg-ga,

I have answered your questions pulling heavily on my research from Wikipedia.

Question #1:

The USA does not own the land at Guantanamo Bay, but they do have the
rights to do with the land what they want and pretty much have
complete control of it at the moment. "The United States controls the
land on both sides of the southern part of Guantánamo Bay (Bahía de
Guantánamo in Spanish) under a lease set up in the wake of the 1898
Spanish-American War. The Cuban government denounces the lease on
grounds that article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of
Treaties voids treaties procured by force or its threatened use."

In the case of South Korea, there is communication with South Korean,
but with regards to the base in Cuba, the United States does not give
Cuba a lot of input into what happens there.

Question #2: The land is still owned by the host country, but
diplomatic missions are exempt from local law and "in almost all
respects treated as part of the territory of the home country." While
there is not the freedom to do whatever, there are many examples in
history where embassy's played a key role in protecting people.

"As the host country may not enter the representing country's embassy
without permission, embassies are sometimes used by refugees escaping
from either the host country or a third country. For example, North
Korean nationals, who would be arrested and deported from China upon
discovery, have sought sanctuary at various third-country embassies in
China. Once inside the embassy, diplomatic channels can be used to
solve the issue and send the refugees to another country."
SOURCE: (there are also examples
of violations of embassy extraterritoriality available on this page,
which proves that complete freedom is not there).

Question #3: The clear advantage to holding "militant combatants" on
Guantanama Bay is that, in theory at least, they are beyond the reach
of the courts of the United States because they are not on US
territory, and therefore do not have all of the rights that come with
being on US soil. "The status of this prison, above political beliefs,
is not clear and may be against Human Rights and democratic ethics and
laws, although U.S. courts have partially accepted the status of the
prison as existing outside many of the U.S. laws, with the caveat that
additional rights be provided regarding due process."

It is important to note that this idea is being challenged constantly
in the courts and in public/political opinion and the jury is still
out on what advantages will remain once everything is sorted out. The
viewpoint of the US government is as follows:

"The Executive branch of the U.S. government has classified the
detainees in Camp X-Ray as "enemy combatants," rather than prisoners
of war (POWs), which they claim means that they do not have to be
conferred the rights granted to POWs under the Geneva Conventions. The
U.S. government justifies this designation by claiming that they do
not have the status of either regular soldiers nor that of guerrillas,
and they are not part of a regular army or militia."

Recommended further reading: 
Enemy Combatants:
Geneva COnventions:

Please let me know if you require any clarification and I will do my
best to further assist you. All the best,


Request for Answer Clarification by menext-ga on 18 Aug 2006 13:11 PDT
I guess the only clarification would require most of your opinion
anyways...but I'd still like to know what you think.

***Cuba is obviously a special situation; the United States does not
maintain diplomatic relations with the country it occupies, while Cuba
will never be able to force the United States to leave.  What we have
is a situation of "agree to disagree", Cuba believes this treaty is no
longer valid while the United States still uses it to justify their
presence.  For all purposes, legality hasn't played a big part in the
situation for over 30 years - hasn't this degraded from a legal
showdown to "who has the bigger stick?"  For all purposes, the United
States could stick nuclear missle silos all over Guantanamo Bay and
the Cubans couldn't do anything about it - could they?

I mean, you said "The USA does not own the land at Guantanamo Bay, but
they do have the rights to do with the land what they want and pretty
much have
complete control of it at the moment."  Since Cuba is a lone nation
that poses little threat to the U.S., and both countries think the
other is wrong, doesn't the U.S. practically own the land?  What
doesn't the U.S. just annex the land and claim it as new U.S.

Clarification of Answer by tisme-ga on 19 Aug 2006 10:25 PDT
Hello menext-ga,

It is hard to speculate on what the Cubans could do. I don?t think the
majority American public opinion would support an official annexation
of Cuban land. I think the status quo is likely to remain as it is. As
for sticking nuclear missile silos onto Cuba, I don?t see what benefit
that would be to anyone. Cubans would get mad, Americans would get mad
and other countries around the world would be furious, no matter how
good the intentions were. Any nuclear expansion in our times is done
quietly and with as little publicity as possible (because of Nuclear
Non-Proliferation treaties and attempts to discourage such countries
as North Korea and Iran from further developing their nuclear

The US won?t annex the land because it would make it seem like an
imperialist, something it definitely does not want to do. Land
disagreements are more common than most people think. For example, a
long lasting dispute with Canada has been unsolved for many years:

?managed maritime boundary disputes with the US at Dixon Entrance,
Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around the disputed Machias
Seal Island and North Rock; working toward greater cooperation with US
in monitoring people and commodities crossing the border;?

The US has only acted once in several years to challenge Canada?s
claim (if I remember correctly, they had a boat travel through without
permission). This is an actual dispute in ownership, whereas the USA
does not even claim to own the land in Cuba, it is merely on a
permanent lease.

From the CIA Factbook, here are the major outstanding disputes, the
land from Cuba being one of them:
?prolonged drought, population growth, and outmoded practices and
infrastructure in the border region strain water-sharing arrangements
with Mexico; the US has stepped up efforts to stem nationals from
Mexico, Central America, and other parts of the world from crossing
illegally into the US from Mexico; illegal immigrants from the
Caribbean, notably Haiti and the Dominican Republic, attempt to enter
the US through Florida by sea; 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement in the
Bering Sea still awaits Russian Duma ratification; managed maritime
boundary disputes with Canada at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait
of Juan de Fuca, and around the disputed Machias Seal Island and North
Rock; US and Canada seek greater cooperation in monitoring people and
commodities crossing the border; The Bahamas and US have not been able
to agree on a maritime boundary; US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is
leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the
area can terminate the lease; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa
Island; US has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has
reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any
other state; Marshall Islands claims Wake Island?

Also the long term plan that the United States seems to have for Cuba
is to win the hearts and minds of the people by supporting supporters
of change. This will probably step up quite a bit after Fidel Castro
dies. Currently there are unlicensed broadcasts and support for
dissidents by the United States. The goal is not to make Cubans feel
that the US is an imperialist, but to win them over.

All the best,


Clarification of Answer by tisme-ga on 23 Aug 2006 20:32 PDT
Hello menext-ga,

Thanks for the feedback and your tip. I sincerely appreciate both. 

I guess I sort of knew the answer and was using Wikipedia to back
myself up, which is why my original answer was the way it was. I will
definitely implement your suggestions in the future. Also thank you
for a very interesting question.

All the best,

menext-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
At first I felt the answers were mediocre, 3 stars at best - the
researcher seemed to suppy his entire response with supplements from
Wikipedia ; I'm far from computer illiterate, I had already visited
most of those Wikipedia links because of what a quick and usually
satisfying source of information it can be (credible or not) -
however, it has never been, and most likely never will be, an
authorized, valid, "researchable" source of info, only casual at most.

The clarification is what saved him - he did more homework, added more
examples; I guess I get negative points for not really emphasizing
clearly, in the first place, that I wanted him to focus on Cuba being
this "exception" to disputed land treaties, a case where it happened a
long time ago and now a new government occupies the old and doesn't
recognize the treaty.

I hold no ill will against the researcher for running to Wikipedia,
only frown and want to caution him that, quite frankly, 1) it's too
easy, 2) it's not an "official" source, 3) and I'm willing to bet at
some of your clients here have already (at least, attempted) to use it
before they ask - in my case, I did an hour of research on Wikipedia
which ended in pseudo-confusion and not a lot of resolve or closure on
the issue - international law has never been my strong point. :)  I
didn't intend on paying someone $$$ to do exactly what I did, I
thought the $10 he would clear after Google's cut would be worth more
than that. :-/

For an outstanding recovery from what began as an average answer, I
would like to tip this researcher $5.  Points to the other researcher
for chipping in, I appreciate it.

Subject: Re: Rights of U.S. on foreign soil; militant combatants @ Guantanamo Bay Naval B
From: myoarin-ga on 20 Aug 2006 03:59 PDT
The major information is Tisme's answer is certainly correct.
One point, however, ownership of embassy property:
In many cases, the US abroad and foreign countries in Washington and
elsewhere have purchased the land on which the embassy stands.

This site describes France's purchase of property in Canada for the embassy:

And this one, the purchase by Estonia of property in Washington, DC:
and Armenia and Italy and Turkey:

This site gives the history of the US Embassy in Berlin, where
property was purchased in 1930, and lay unused from WW II till

In contrast, the site about the one in India speaks of land "allocated:

and this one describes the situation for the Ukrainian embassy in
Washington, suggesting that ownership of embassy property is based on
mutuality between the two nations:

Whether the land is owned, allocated or leased, however, has no effect
on the extraterritorial rights:

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that embassies are under the State
Department; the U.S. Military is not in charge "to do whatever they
(U.S. military) like with it."  Diplomatic staff are in a foreign
country at the pleasure of that country and can be requested to leave
at any time (usually not without reason, and usually with reciprocal
demand that a diplomat in the other country be requested to leave) -
"persona non grata":

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