Seven years after President Obama made a campaign promise to close the prison used to house terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, he has sent a plan to Congress to do just that.
This is a bad move all around. President Obama has been criticized by a wide range of Americans for putting progressive politics above national security and the safety of this nation.
Many of the previously released prisoners are already back leading terrorist groups.
The short-sighted rhetoric surrounding the closing of Guantanamo centers around the accusations of torture and indefinite detainments without trial that dogged the President George W. Bush administration and gave then-Senator Obama a great political talking point.
Here is some of what Obama had to say to that point in his announcement of the plan on Tuesday, which you can watch at the bottom of this article:
“The plan we’re putting forward today isn’t just about closing the facility at Guantanamo. It’s not just about dealing with the current group of detainees, which is a complex piece of business because of the manner in which they were originally apprehended and what happened. This is about closing a chapter in our history. 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.”
The President’s plan includes moving the large majority of the remaining detainees to other countries or to supermax prisons inside the U.S if they are deemed too dangerous to transport anywhere. The President has yet to determine which facility in the U.S. will take the terrorists, but according to CNN:
Options for housing prisoners in the U.S. include the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado; the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas; and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Pentagon officials visited those sites last year to develop “prototype” plans for converting them into detention facilities.
Currently 91 detainees remain in Guantanamo. Here is a breakdown of where they stand:
- 10 are expected to face a military tribunal
- 34 are approved for release by the summer and the State Department is currently working on resettlement plans
- 47 are still to be investigated by a review board to determine if they can be shipped back home or to a third country
- The majority of current detainees are Yemeni, but given the civil war tearing apart that country, the risk is too large to send them to a prison in Yemen
25 countries have taken terrorists thus far, with Oman taking the most out of any – 20. This is no easy task as you can imagine. Lee Wolosky, the U.S. Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure had this to day to CNN:
“This is hard. It’s a difficult ask of the U.S. to make, to say please take these individuals whom the world has branded as terrorists. And frequently we have little to offer them in return, except the continued goodwill of the United States.”
Additionally, some of the terrorists released from the prison in swaps or other situations have gone back to entering the war against America, making the calculus on where to put these suspected terrorists even more difficult.
In fact, the Director of National Intelligence confirmed in a report last spring that 116 terrorists transferred out of the facility returned to the battlefield.
Another one of the reasons the President claims he has pushed for the closure of the facility is the cost. Guantanamo Bay’s overall annual budget is $445 million. The President believes he can save $65 – $85 million a year if the prison is closed.
Do you support the closing on Guantanamo Bay? Sound off in the comments below!