On Tuesday, President Obama outlined his future plans for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It includes acquiring the Thomson Correctional Center in Carroll County, Illinois and transferring less than 100 (of the 210) detainees from Cuba to the U.S. facility.
Obama’s plan was a move to make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo detention camp but the plan wasn’t met with enthusiasm by everyone.
Republican lawmakers are furious, Indiana Representative Mike Pence said “How does closing Guantanamo Bay make us safer? How does moving over 70 known terrorists, to a facility in my beloved heartland of this country, make our families more safe? And how does it even make sense?”
The Obama administration did anticipate reaction to the plan and emphasised in the letter announcing the changes that detainees would only be brought to the US for detention, here’s the quote “The president has no intention of releasing any detainees in the United States,”
The BBC’s North American editor Mark Mandell had the following interesting question on his blog ‘if those who are accused of plotting 9/11 can be tried in a civil court, why can’t all those detained be treated the same way?’
Human rights groups are also not happy with the plan though for different reasons to Republican lawmakers. Amnesty International say ‘the only thing that President Obama is doing with this announcement is changing the Zip Code of Guantanamo’. Amnesty also said “The detainees who are currently scheduled to be relocated to Thomsom have not been charged with any crime. In seven years, the U.S. government, including the CIA and FBI, have not produced any evidence against these individuals that can be taken to a court of law. To read Amnesty International’s full response click here.
Who is happy with the plan? Well certain lawmakers in Illinois are, Governor Pat Quinn and the state’s senior senator, Democrat Dick Durbin say they are pleased with the plan for the safest prision in America to be in their state. The fact that the prison purchase could create an estimated 2,340 to 3,250 direct and indirect jobs for the state, and halve unemployment for the county probably also sweetens the deal.
And those detainees not transferred to the US? Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said 116 Guantanamo detainees will be freed or extradited to their countries of origin.
Do you think Obama is actually closing or really just moving Guantanamo?