Congress, Administration Must Renew Efforts to Close Guantanamo
By Mark Fallon
No more delays. No more excuses. No more partisan finger pointing. It’s time to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
America will be judged, and judged harshly, for not closing it sooner. Long after it is undeniable that the prison isn’t compatible with our American ideals, long after it is clear that it harms our national security, the prison remains open.
Every day that the prison remains open is a day that erodes the credibility that the United States needs to lead a successful fight against terrorism. It has become a strategic liability and a symbol of injustice, oppression, and torture for our adversaries. It’s time we counter that narrative and once again become a beacon for the rule of law and American ideals.
We all understand that our government needs a place to hold enemy combatants and a place where we can bring terrorists to justice. And we need a place to extract information from detainees through progressive interrogation to protect our national security interests. But none of these things are happening at Guantanamo Bay, and American taxpayers are spending $3 million per detainee per year–hundreds of millions of dollars a year–on the prison.
And for what? It’s not clear.
What is clear is that we need a new approach, a progressive approach, and a strategic approach to protect, not endanger our national security.
Congress is working now on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. While I’m hopeful that lawmakers and the White House can work up a compromise that would allow for Guantanamo to be closed, the current bill would make it nearly impossible for President Obama to get the job done by the end of his second term.
That’s why Human Rights First is renewing efforts to get the administration and Congress to work together to close Guantanamo Bay in a pragmatic and bipartisan manner. I and many others stand behind this approach, and we are calling on the leaders of our great country to refocus their efforts on closing the facility rather than laying blame.
Closing the facility must be our first objective. Our security and continued American international leadership depend on it.