The Liquidation of Guantanamo

The 122 detainees held in Guantanamo Bay still impede President Obama’s dream of closing the ill-reputed prison and prevent him from achieving one final success before leaving the White House.

Obama has, no doubt, made some brave decisions during his presidency of the strongest country in the world. Withdrawing from Iraq put an end to the bloodshed and destruction that his predecessor George Bush unleashed on the country. Pulling forces out of Afghanistan also saved many lives. But in closing Guantanamo Bay, he still faces problems.

Six years have passed since Obama promised to close the prison, which is a blemish on America’s human rights record and a symbol of international law violations. It is a perpetual shame on the American administration and a threat to its moral authority in the world.

Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the prison as a psychological wound for Americans. He added that closing it is in the interest of national security. For his part, Obama said that “it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit.”

But on the face of it, closing the prison, which initially contained 800 prisoners, involves significant complications. Congress, which contains a Republican majority, opposes transferring the prisoners to prisons within the United States and has placed severe restrictions on transferring them to other countries, fearing that they will return to terrorism.

Furthermore, a broad section of the American public, as well as several government officials, are still in shock from the Sept. 11 attacks. Their fear increases as new terrorist attacks in London and Paris occur.

Despite reassurances from officials in charge of the prison, concerns still remain. At the same time, Obama continues his effort to use his presidential powers and challenge the obstacles of Congress. Recent reports have mentioned that a green light has been given for the transfer of 54 prisoners, most from Yemen, to other countries.

Because of the current chaos in Yemen, Congress opposes transferring these prisoners to that country. The American administration, on the other hand, is trying to get around this obstruction by sending them to other countries like Slovakia and Georgia.

Here it must be said that the prison will eventually be cleansed, though perhaps not while Obama is still in office, as Congress may not want to allow him to have this accomplishment. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who resigned, assesses that closing the prison before the end of Obama’s term will be very difficult. It may be even more difficult, according to Hagel, if Congress imposes new conditions on releasing the remaining detainees and the countries that may receive them.

With American elections coming this November, Congress will continue obstructing the liquidation of the prison, and will use all kinds of lies and deception in its political conflict with Obama. The prisoners, the majority of whom never had the accusations against them proven during the years they spent in prison, are the victims of that selfish conflict between the two major parties in the United States.

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