One more time all together: Obama wants to close Gitmo

by Jens David Ohlin

Just a minute ago, President Obama announced yet again his intention and desire to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. There are no particular surprises here. From what I heard listening to his comments, the plan is merely a renewed push to get Congress to cooperate on closing the prison. Specifically, Obama suggested that the detainees who cannot be released should be transferred to a domestic facility, though he declined to specify which one.

Obama made several points in defense of this plan. He conceded that some members of the public are scared about the possibility of detaining terrorists on US soil, though he noted that we already do that because several terrorists convicted in Article III courts are already housed in federal prisons. Moreover, the federal government has housed them in the US without incident, which demonstrates, according to Obama, that domestic detention is safe.

Furthermore, Obama also tried appealing to fiscal conservatives, noting that the transfers would save the government between $65 milliion to $85 million per year. Over a span of 20 years, that adds up to a $1.7 billion savings. So domestic detention is not only safe, it’s cheaper too.

Obama also announced that although military commissions would remain an option for detainees who are captured on the battlefield in active theaters, for all others, Article III courts are the preferred option for terrorism prosecutions.

There was little discussion of how to clear the political log jam that remains over the fate of Guantanamo, though the President said that he was “clear-eyed” about the challenges of achieving the result he wanted: “The politics of this are tough,” he said, but “this plan deserves a fair hearing.” He noted that even George W. Bush wanted to close the prison.

Of course, one solution, which he did not discuss, would be the use of an executive order to close the Guantanamo facility. I’m very curious to hear readers’ thoughts regarding this possibility. One, I’m interested in predictions about whether he might take such a drastic step in the last months of his presidency. Second, I’m interested in whether it would provoke a miniature constitutional crisis, with Obama using his executive power to close the facility but Congress using its spending power to prevent detainee transfers to domestic soil. What result then?

UPDATE: Transcript of the Background Press Call is here.

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post . The post doesn’t explain indeed , how come , after 8 years almost , and in an election year , would Obama now , and only now , issue an executive warrant , for the closure of Gitmo .

    I was wondering , what has got to do with the election soon to come . Is it possible that he doesn’t consider the implications on Hilary and Bernie Sanders ?? Republicans , already expressed clear objections to it , here Rubio I quote ( The Guardian ) :

    “When I am president, foreign terrorists caught overseas will receive a one-way ticket to Guantánamo,”

    And more :

    “And if you’re an American who has committed the ultimate act of betrayal against our country, I will have no qualms about treating you like the enemy combatant you are if you have actionable information and refuse to cooperate.”

    I was wondering , Obama would become in his last year , bolder ? Or more ” electoral ” ? or god knows if it has to do with elections . Because , as I see it , it can’t help too much to democrats ,or to Hilary at least , but the contrary !!


  2. Just have encountered the following chart , thinking of my comment above :

    The chart demonstrates , a total of 51% of americans , thinking that Apple should unlock the iphone of the san Bernardino shooter .

    Those are the Americans of the Fourth amendments and constitutional rights ?? Something very significant has happened to Americans .

    Here’s the chart:


  3. @ El roam Agree with your views.
    What is the alternative to Gitmo since no facility has been identified. Domestic detention is safe according to the present incumbent. Then why not house them in the White House till the end of his tenure.

  4. Kumar ,

    What view of mine you do agree with , if I may ask ?? Do you think indeed , that has to do with the election to come ?? Or despite it ?? He doesn’t give damn nothing on Hilary and sanders indeed ? I couldn’t figure it out !!

    He was always thinking , and declaring , that The Gitmo is a disgrace on the face of America . So , would he become now bolder , in his last term and year ?? And issue now , an executive warrant ??


  5. El roam,
    I agree with your statement –
    “The post doesn’t explain indeed , how come , after 8 years almost , and in an election year , would Obama now , and only now , issue an executive warrant , for the closure of Gitmo .
    I was wondering , what has got to do with the election soon to come .”

    If I am not mistaken Obama had declared long back that he would close the facility. Why didn’t he do it? Whether he cares for Sanders or Clinton does not matter, he is trying to leave an imprint in his last year by trying to close down Gitmo.

  6. Kumar ,
    Yes , your assumption , is reasonable , , but not to forget :

    Even if so, he did, and does of course, always believed, that should be closed . So it is hard to trace whether there is indeed, an electoral back mind behind this. Although as stated by me, there must be, because in a way or other , must project on Hilary or Sanders, in their race, and surely he is aware of it. In time , we shall understand better and better …..


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