How To Close Guantanamo


President Obama should provide sustained leadership to increase the momentum to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo and close the facility.

Sustained leadership

  • Communicate to Congress and the American people the administration’s comprehensive plan for closing Guantanamo before leaving office.
  • Publicly defend transfers of detainees out of Guantanamo as consistent with, and reflective of, national security interests.
  • Highlight the important changes the administration has made in the policy and practice of evaluating detainees for potential transfer.
  • Correct misconceptions about the ability of U.S. prisons to safely hold Guantanamo detainees.
  • Direct the president’s top counterterrorism advisor to establish clear benchmarks for, and periodic reviews of, the relevant agencies’ Guantanamo closure efforts to ensure the facility is closed by the end of the president’s second term.

Solidify a legal and policy framework

  • Veto any legislation that imposes transfer restrictions on Guantanamo detainees—including restrictions on transfers to the United States and to Yemen.
  • Increase efforts to develop rehabilitation and reintegration programs to allow for transfers of Yemeni detainees.
  • Complete all Periodic Review Board hearings for eligible detainees as soon as possible.
  • Direct the Department of Justice not to oppose habeas petitions for detainees who are either too sick or too old to pose a security threat.
  • End the military commissions and prosecute detainees who have committed crimes in civilian courts.

Complete transfers

  • Direct the secretary of defense to transfer detainees to the fullest extent possible, consistent with applicable law.
  • Transfer eligible detainees to a civilian court in the United States or to an appropriate foreign jurisdiction.
  • Transfer detainees serving military commission sentences to an appropriate high security federal prison or to their home countries to serve the remainder of their sentences.
  • Transfer the detainees being held in law of war detention to an appropriate high security federal prison until the end of hostilities.

Risk management

  • Manage the risk posed by repatriation and resettlement by facilitating rehabilitation and monitoring, and developing security programs in countries receiving detainees, to ensure that transfers are consistent with U.S. national security interests and international legal obligations.
  • Regularly communicate to Congress and the American people the compelling national security and rule of law reasons for closing Guantanamo.

Published on January 17, 2017


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