Since his first campaign for the White House, President Obama has had it in for closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison compound that currently still houses some of the most vile terrorists the Taliban and al Qaeda have ever turned out. And now that Obama is in his final days in office, he seems just as determined as ever to keep that one promise.
As reported by The Washington Post, Obama has informed Congress he will “resettle” 19 more detainees in one last effort to pare down the prison population there:
Even if the transfers occur before Jan. 20 as planned, about 40 inmates will remain at the facility, a lasting reminder of President Obama’s failure to deliver on his Inauguration Day promise to close the prison and an illustration of the difficulty of following through on one of his central national security goals.
The end to Obama’s Guantanamo plans also sets up a renewed debate over the proper handling of terrorism suspects and the legality of a system that was designed to interrogate and hold al-Qaeda suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“The bottom line is that the continuing existence of Guantanamo is a legal and moral blight,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “It is the embodiment of U.S. violations of the rule of law, unfair trials and unlawful and indefinite detentions without charge or trial.”
That would be true if those who were held, and continue to be held, at Gitmo were normal prisoners, but they’re not. They are being treated as prisoners of war, which embodies an entirely different set of rules. What Obama is doing is akin to letting German and Japanese prisoners of war go before America won the conflict, but then again, considering the ACLU’s record of defending terrorists and objecting to constitutional law enforcement efforts aimed at keeping Americans safe.
But all is not lost. President-elect Trump has vowed to make the Guantanamo Bay prison complex an integral part of his counterterrorism efforts.
And, of course, for less money: