Guantanamo Bay to close?

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, February 24th, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: International, us politics - Tags: , , , ,


Barak Obama is moving to fulfil an election pledge made in 2008 and close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre.  From the New York Times:

President Obama on Tuesday sent Congress a long-awaited plan for closing the Guantánamo Bay prison, beginning a final push to fulfill a campaign promise and one of his earliest national security policy goals in the face of deep skepticism from many Republican lawmakers.

Unveiling the plan from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, the president made clear his frustration at how what was once a bipartisan goal shared by both his predecessor, President George W. Bush, and his 2008 Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, had become a partisan dispute. He urged Congress to give his plan a “fair hearing,” saying the prison wasted money, raised tensions with allies and fueled anti-American sentiments abroad.

“I am very cleareyed about the hurdles to finally closing Guantánamo — the politics of this are tough,” Mr. Obama said during a 17-minute statement. He added: “I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is. And if, as a nation, we don’t deal with this now, when will we deal with it?”

This is something that Obama campaigned for in 2008.  And at the time the proposal had the agreement of George Bush and John McCain.  But then politics got in the way.

As well as complying with various international law obligations and improving foreign relations and the reputation of the United States the proposal if completed will save the US money.

But the Republicans in Congress want to have nothing to do with the proposal and will no doubt stand by a law which prevents the military from transferring detainees from Guantanamo onto domestic soil for any purpose. There may be a constitutional issue as the Constitution arguably allows the President as commander in chief to move the detainees but I do not expect the republicans to budge.

And on cue Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have opposed the move and instead proposed to expand the base.  They would have kittens if the base was returned to Cuba.

It is good to see Obama in his last year start to use executive powers to get through changes the American political system is unable to even contemplate.  He could have some fun.  If he is able to replace Justice Scalia with a progressive Judge the Supreme Court will potentially be tilted for a long time towards making more sane decisions.  And decisions such as this one which put a stop on Obama’s climate change policies would be less likely.

If he fails you would have to suspect that America really is becoming ungovernable.

21 comments on “Guantanamo Bay to close?”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    The US still holds dozens of innocent inmates in atrocious conditions in Gitmo. It seems the US has given up on finding homes for these innocent men to go back to, let alone addressing the question of compensation and an apology for years of incarceration and mistreatment.

    • AmaKiwi 1.1

      An empire does not care what the world outside thinks. That’s why empires are so dangerous. Self-centered deafness is evidence this Empire (USA) is in collapse. Its death throws will be ugly for all of us.

  2. John Shears 2

    Thanks to Wikipedia here is the history.
    Interesting to read the language, the words, sounds familiar?

    “Guantánamo Bay (Spanish: Bahía de Guantánamo) is a bay located in Guantánamo Province at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the largest harbor on the south side of the island and it is surrounded by steep hills which create an enclave that is cut off from its immediate hinterland.
    The United States assumed territorial control over the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay under the 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations.[1] The United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over this territory, while recognizing that Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty. The current government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as illegal and insists the Cuban–American Treaty was obtained by threat of force and is in violation of international law. Some legal scholars judge that the lease may be voidable.”

    It is a part of the US Marine Corp history I wish Mr.Obama luck, he will need it.

  3. ann johns 3

    All he’s going to accomplish is to change the zip code of these prisoners. I heard Cruz saying that there is no way that america is going to “give back” it’s biggest military base in a country so close.

  4. Ad 4

    President Obama has done plenty to pull US executive politics to the left. Sure, LBJ achieved more, and in a shorter time. But Obama has locked in pretty impressive stuff if you look over 50 years of Presidents.

    On Guantanamo, he’s had pretty much no help unwinding it from either Senate+ Congress, Us public opinion, or the international community. No-one wants the prisoners, most are afraid to have them, no government is prepared to pay a political cost that the US has been willing to pay happily for over a decade.

    Will be little damage to Obama’s legacy if he fails on this one.

    If he wants to spend his remaining political capital, I’d advise him to pass on Guantanamo, wait for his executive window, and simply anoint a Supreme Court judge.

    • Andre 4.1

      The downside of Obama doing a recess appointment to the Supreme Court is it would really really piss off moderate Republicans (and some independents) who might otherwise sit at home rather than vote for a Prez Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.

      I know nobody loves a pedant, but; Congress means House of Representatives plus Senate.

      • Ad 4.1.1

        There’s a few more downsides.
        But that’s for a future President.

        On current choices, he’s got time, energy and executive capacity to achieve just so much. He can’t overcome the legislation forbidding Gitmo prisoners to US soil. Pretty pointless move.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    If he fails you would have to suspect that America really is becoming ungovernable.

    The US has been a Rogue State for some time.

    • Grindlebottom 5.1

      Yep. Successive US government agencies, Presidents and Members of Congress seem to meet this definition:
      “In theory, at least, to be classified as a rogue, a state had to commit four transgressions: pursue weapons of mass destruction, support terrorism, severely abuse its own citizens, and stridently criticize the United States.”

      • Macro 5.1.1

        They score three out of four – but I’m not sure about the veracity of the last criterion however.

        • Grindlebottom

          Well, most people outside the US who criticise the United States are criticising their policies.

          The US political system never has any shortage of elected representatives (and non-politician movers and shakers) who are strident critics of United States policies 🙂

          • Macro

            But is it a qualification for being a “rogue” to criticize the US? It seems to me that the US cannot stand criticism. And yes I take your point that even within the US there is criticism of their Govt Policies. It seems that the last criterion is therefore a rather foolish one. The first three are the ones that matter and on those the US is clearly “rogue”.

        • AmaKiwi

          Remember Bush’s 9/11 speech: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”

          You don’t have to even criticize the US to be their enemy. You only have to fail to praise every word they say.

  6. Macro 6

    The US has got to stop voting in idiot republicans into the Senate and Congress. They are fucking up not only the US, but the whole world, with there intransigence to anything approaching reform, environmental protection, or peoples welfare. God save us from these f**king idiots.

    • Ad 6.1

      A Trump presidency would vastly accelerate US political decline both domestic and international.

      Good thing, somewhat.

      • Arthur 6.1.1

        Not much more dangerous than a dying beast.

      • Macro 6.1.2

        Yes I’m inclined to agree. I don’t see it happening of course, no matter how hard the faux news “promote” him. The head to head polling of Clinton vs Trump has Clinton significantly ahead. They have Sanders even more ahead which is refreshing.
        But as I was alluding to above – it really doesn’t matter if it is Obama, Clinton, or Sanders – or even – heaven forbid – Trump! It’s the Senate and Congress who are the problem. If the Senate and Congress are full of Corporate promoted puppets – NOTHING apart from business as usual prevails.

        • Grindlebottom

          The US seems to me to have been inexorably morphing into a police state as well. Like boiling a frog. Most of their people don’t seem to have really noticed it. I can’t even keep track of how many city, state and federal military, security and police agencies the place has now. Plus all their associated private contractors.

          • Macro

            Yes – On my visit in 2014 that was my first impression as one went through border control. Coming from Canada it was like chalk and cheese! Unsmiling, guns everywhere, and treated like criminals from the start. Their news media of course don’t help. The whole time they are promoting fear. Fear of this, fear of that, fear, nothing but fear! How can the population who listen and watch this sort of fear mongering day after day think anything else other than the whole world is out to get them?
            And the armament of the police force has to be seen to be believed! Armoured vehicles, tanks, and all sorts of military stuff – you would think they were the Military rather than the police! Doesn’t stop the insane firearms killings either.

  7. Hennie van der Merwe 7

    I am clearly not an expert but there are a few things that I do not understand about this situation:

    1 Innocent until proven guilty not relevant for these prisoners?
    2 What happened to the right to have a fair trial?
    3 Why are they not being charged with anything? I still remember the International uproar when the Apartheid South African government enacted a new law that allowed for suspected terrorists to be detained for 90 days without trial.
    4 Why cant they find a “home” for these prisoners? Surely they are citizens of some country and imo those countries have to accept them back if they are deported from the US?
    5 Does anyone have statistics as to how many have been detained here, how many found guilty and sentenced, how many freed and how many remaining?
    6 I seem to recall that these people have been detained as prisoners of war and are thus subject to military hearings but surely there is a clause in the Geneva Convention that governs the treatment of prisoners of war?

    Oops forgot Bush decided that Taliban and El Qaeda is not covered by the Geneva Convention because they are not signatories to the Convention.

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