Ten years ago, the first 20 terrorist suspects were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama vowed to close the detention facility, but Congress put up road blocks, the courts upheld indefinite detention and the future of the prison and its remaining inmates remain in limbo. Our
guests explore future possibilities for both Guantanamo and the prisoners who are currently being held there.
In Shutting Guantanamo, Little Is Up To The President
“The Congressional restrictions on transfer out of Guantanamo and the Congressional restrictions on building facilities in the U.S. to accommodate them make it impossible to close Guantanamo, and I think that’s a horrible policy,” Congressman Adam Smith said. Smith’s biggest concerns about the facility are the facts that there is no effective way to transfer or release prisoners there if it later comes to light that an individual was wrongly imprisoned. The best way to bring terrorists to
justice is through article three courts and due process, Smith said. “We should use it and we should not shy away from it,” he said.
Guantanamo “Now Hurting Us More Than It Is Helping Us”
John Bellinger thinks that 10 years ago, it made more sense to have a facility like Guantanamo. Our troops in Afghanistan were capturing thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda members, with nowhere to put them. Now, Bellinger said, it has become a very costly facility to operate.
“Guantanamo is now hurting us more than it is helping us,” Bellinger said.
Strong Criticisms of Guantanamo’s Management
According to David Cole, it is not Guantanamo itself, but how the Bush administration chose to manage the facility and the process, that present the most serious enduring problems. The laws of war require a hearing when
there’s doubt about who a prisoner may be, humane treatment, and release when the war is over, Cole said. But because, in his opinion, the Bush administration chose not to grant detainees hearings and assume they were the “worst of the worst” criminals, we have the enduring problem of what to do with the current prisoners there.
When Would It Be Possible to Close Guantanamo?
Marc Thiessen said that Guantanamo would close tomorrow if al-Qaeda issued a statement of surrender. But since nobody expects that to happen, by that standard, Guantanamo could stay open indefinitely. There is also a disagreement between Cole and Thiessen about whether torture actually happened at Guantanamo. Thiessen said nobody was ever tortured there, but Cole said that the Bush administration’s lead prosecutor at Guantanamo, Susan Crawford, is on the record as saying that one prisoner – Mohammad al-Qahtani – was tortured at Guantanamo, and that’s why she dismissed his prosecution.
You can read the full transcript here