President Obama has signed an Executive Order shuttering the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within one year.
Fulfilling his campaign pledge to the American people, it will help rebuild our damaged international reputation and return the United States as the global leader on human rights.
The military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been a blight on the core values and principles our country was founded upon. Nearly 800 alleged “enemy combatants” captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere — many in exchange for bounties that only encouraged warring factions to turn in their local adversaries, not adversaries of the U.S. — have been imprisoned at Guantanamo. More than three-quarters have been released to their home country because they were not a threat to the U.S. or an agreement was reached to detain them elsewhere.
At Guantanamo, the U.S. authorized interrogation techniques considered torture by the Geneva Conventions – the rules of engagement which have guided our military since WWII. As a result, Guantanamo has fueled anti-American sentiment around the world, emboldening our enemies, aiding in the recruitment of terrorists, and increasing the likelihood American captives will face similar treatment.
Today, less than 250 detainees remain at Guantanamo. President Obama’s closure of the facility will operate in coordination with the repatriation of detainees to their home nations, many once there will continue to be incarcerated. The remaining detainees would be criminally charged, relocated to high-security military brigs on sovereign U.S. soil, and tried in U.S. courts.
The American criminal justice system is and has been a model for the rest of the world. Our courts have prosecuted all types and our prisons hold some of the most notorious criminals in the world-including terrorists such as Omar Abdel-Rahman, the infamous “blind sheik” who participated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
For a country that proudly stands for justice and fairness under the law, Guantanamo is an affront to our core beliefs. A modern day gulag, it impedes our ability to combat ideologies that promote hatred, intolerance and terrorism. President Obama’s decision was the right one, long in coming. It will finally close a sad chapter in our nation’s history, so we can resume setting an example for our enemies to envy and allies to follow.