Well, I’m pretty sure we all saw this one coming. According to CNN, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted on the Sunday talk shows that Guantanamo’s closing would take longer than expected. What a shocker: it’s not as if there was any opposition to the closure, right? Sarcasm aside, I could have written this two or three months ago. That begs the question, why am I only just now getting to it?
That answer is pretty easy; it has been about 9 months since President Obama signed the executive order calling for the closure. Closing a major prison holding detainees from around the world that may or may not pose a security risk is a very complicated affair: it is necessary to give it some time. Nine months out of a one year timetable is enough time to reevaluate the task at hand. So, what happened?
Quite simply, the effort to close it got bogged down in the details of making it happen. As USA Today reports, there are still some fairly large hurdles to closing down Guantanamo. According to the article, there were issues compiling the evidence on each prisoner. The main issue is one that is too common in our government: agencies not talking to each other and sharing information. Isn’t that why President Bush established the Department of Homeland Security? Theoretically, our government agencies should have been on the same page with this information from the start. Unfortunately, it seems that theory is once again starkly different from practice.
The central issue here, though, is where to keep all the detainees who are ineligible for release or transfer to another nation. This is the most contentious issue in the closing of Guantanamo. It is also a textbook case of the “Not in my Backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome. Everyone wants the positive effects of the closure of Guantanamo, only as long as someone else has to deal with the negatives. Problem is, we quickly run out of “someone else”‘s, and then nobody gets the benefits. Obviously the federal government has a bit more power and influence than a county government or a corporation, but there was no clear idea of a potential site for the prison until recently. Now, officials are considering a maximum security prison in Michigan, or the Army’s Fort Leavenworth, the traditional American military prison, to house the detainees. However, both sites would need to undergo renovations and security upgrades to house these detainees, adding to a delay in the plan.
The third major issue in the Guantanamo delay is what to do with the detainees that are acquitted by whatever court system the government chooses to use in the cases. Most of the detainees are not U.S. citizens, and so releasing them into the U.S. is not acceptable to the administration or the American public. However, most of our allies are reluctant to take the detainees, out of similar concerns.
Most people in this country agree that closing the prison at Guantanamo will be highly beneficial for our country’s international image. We also tend to agree that keeping the detainees in limbo is a bad thing; they should have to face an internationally-accepted trial as soon as possible. So why can’t we get the political will to get it done?
The Guantanamo’s Not Closing Yet…Is Anyone Surprised? by The New Age of Politics, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.