President Barack Obama has finally offered up a plan to close Guantanamo, one of the key promises he had made to U.S. citizens in exchange for the opportunity to lead the country. The problem is, the only change he’s proposing is purely symbolic; detainees could simply be shuffled off to other detention centers within the U.S. and overseas.
“Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law,” said Obama at the White House.
His plan could have about 30 to 60 detainees held within U.S. facilities, while the rest get sent to other countries. Of the approximately 780 prisoners originally held at Gitmo, 680 have already been transferred while nine died in custody. Only 91 remain in Guantanamo proper.
President Obama’s plan is less expensive than a 600 million dollar plan he had previously rejected. Instead, it will “only” cost about 290-475 million dollars to build a prison on U.S. soil, close Gitmo, and move the 91 prisoners elsewhere – 3 million bucks to move each person to another cell because it would be better PR? Bargain!
While human rights groups believe that the proposal is a step in the right direction, the indefinite detention of some men without trial remains a concern that will not be addressed by this change. If anything, this is a more important concern than the closure of the already-mostly-empty shell that housed these men. Expect indefinite detention without trial to continue as news of Guantanamo fades into the background.
“The administration should either prosecute detainees in courts that comport with fair trial standards, or transfer them to home or third countries,”senior national security counsel at Human Rights Watch Laura Pitter said.
“Even in an election year, we should be able to have an open, honest, good-faith dialogue about how to best ensure our national security. The fact that I’m no longer running, Joe is no longer running, we’re not on the ballot—it gives us the capacity to not have to worry about the politics,” said President Obama.
However, even supporters of his plan do not believe that they have enough votes to Guantanamo.
President Obama said on Tuesday that the prison’s existence is “counterproductive to our fight against terrorists, because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit”- a fair point, one that Americans understand because it provides valid criticism and a persistant reminder of their government’s actions during its campaign in the Middle East. However, Politifact notes that Guantanamo rarely features in ISIS or Al Qaeda propaganda.
Ted Cruz wants Guantanamo expanded: “Let me say this, Mr. President: Don’t shut down Gitmo. Expand it, and let’s have some new terrorists there.”
Bernie Sanders believes that “Guantanamo has damaged the United States’ moral standing and undermined our foreign policy.”
This article (Obama’s Plan to Finally Close Guantanamo has No Teeth) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author(CoNN) and AnonHQ.com.