Four Years After Obama Executive Order, Guantanamo Bay Remains Open


Soon after taking office in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  It was one of his main campaign promises, so why does it remain open?  President Obama thought this was the first way he would restore America’s reputation in the world as a peaceful, civilized nation, particularly after the embarrassment of Abu Ghraib.  The President would blame Congress for its failure to close but on January 7, 2011, after challenges to his executive order, President Obama signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill.  The Bill places restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the US mainland or other foreign countries.  It essentially meant the facility would remain open.  The President miscalculated the entire Guantanamo issue.  Allies did not want to take the prisoners from the facility even when they were cleared for release.  Americans didn’t want hardened terrorists, sent to our shores and tried in civilian courts.  The prisoners were too dangerous to be released, and had to be detained indefinitely.  One other miscalculation involved the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.  In fact, they were treated far better there, than any of the other facilities, and enjoyed greater rights.  One such facility was Bagram Air Force Base.  According to David Meyers,  “prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan don’t have access to U.S. courts, which they would if they were at Guantanamo  (the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in Boumediene v. Bush suggests that  detainees held at Guantanamo have the right to challenge their detention in  federal court but detainees held outside of Guantanamo do not — an  interpretation that has since been confirmed by lower courts).”  So as a result of the executive order, President Obama kept prisoners overseas in military prisons, where they experienced conditions far worse than the detainees held at Guantanamo.  While he has reduced the prison population at Guantanamo as promised, George Bush was planning on doing the same and eventually closing the facility.  He was just working on a different time frame than Obama.  The end result will be exactly the same, thereby demonstrating that Bush was correct in his plan for the facility.  Why then has no one asked any questions regarding Guantanamo during the entire election process?

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