Biden Urged to Shut Down Guantanamo, End ‘Stain’ on U.S. Reputation
“The Biden administration is well-positioned to take concrete, tangible steps toward finally cleaning up Guantanamo’s stain on America’s reputation and restoring America’s values-based global leadership in the near term,” writes Benjamin R. Farley, a trial attorney and law-of-war counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense, Military Commissions Defense Organization, in an article posted in Just Security.
Closing Guantanamo would plug the financial drain on U.S.taxpyayers of maintaining 40 alleged terrorists held as prisoners of war, at a cost of $13 million per detainee per year, said the article posted in Just Security, based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law.
Nevertheless, Farley noted that conditions there had dramatically improved.
Once the Obama administration made clear that closing the detention center meant moving some of the prisoners — including former C.I.A. prisoners, such as five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks — to detention facilities in the United States, critics said the proposed relocation of the prisoners was a potential national security threat.
During this year’s presidential campaign, in response to a question, his campaign said in a statement that Mr. Biden “continues to support closing the detention center,” according to The New York Times.
The New York Times said, “But Mr. Biden rarely, if ever, brings up the topic, evidence of how politically toxic it remains after intense Republican efforts to cast Mr. Obama’s initiative as endangering Americans by transferring terrorists to U.S. soil or sending them without adequate safeguards to other countries.”
Twelve other men now at Guantanamo fall under military court proceedings and could be taken in by facilities connected to those courts. Seven of these detainees are currently undergoing pre-trial proceedings before three separate GTMO military commissions: the 9/11 trial, the U.S.S. Cole trial, and the Hadi al-Iraqi (or Nashwan al-Tamir) trial.
There are 19 men who have been detained for between 12 years and nearly 19 years and “are neither approved for transfer nor face a suggestion of prosecution before a military commission,” said Just Security.
Approximately 15 of them are described as “low value” by the U.S. government, suggesting that detention at cost of $13 million per year some 15 years or more since capture “is impractical at best.”
“Although the infrastructure the Obama administration built to responsibly close GTMO has been dismantled in part and otherwise left to gather dust, enough of it remains that the GTMO closure process can be restarted quickly,” according to Just Security.
The full paper, “A Path for Renewing Guantanamo Closure,” can be read here.