Is Obama closing or just moving Guantanamo?


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?

30 Responses to “Is Obama closing or just moving Guantanamo?”

  1. December 16, 2009 at 12:19

    Resolving the Guantanamo issue needs courage, wisdom and a sense of justice. All of which have been wanting in dealing with the detainees there. To hold people for 7 years without being charged or producing before a proper court of law is the lowest any state can inflict on a human being. If there is evidence of prima facie case against them, produce them before a court, and if found guilty, punish them. If not, pay them compensation and let them go. It beggars belief as to how this inhuman act keeps America safe. It smacks of paranoia and irrational fear. This is a barbaric behaviour, which would only destabilise the world further.

  2. December 16, 2009 at 12:55

    President Obama is moving forward ensuring that the hateful prison at Guantanamo is closed and that the detainees are charged, tried and based on fair trials given adequate punishments. Leaving them in Guantanamo to rot would not have served justice at all. Ensuring that the detainees are kept in a high-security prison in Illinois while they are tried ensures that justice is done fully. Of course providing more employment at the prison facility in Illinois is a positive feature. The pros definitely outweighs the cons.

    • 3 Kiwi
      December 17, 2009 at 03:13

      I’m afraid your wrong Pancha, Guantanamo is just the ‘poster child’ for the network of torture prisions and moving people about doesnt improve the situation, there is no talk of closing Bagram prision or any of the institutes USA has outsourced prisioners to. And with the revelations that prisions can’t sue in court agasint their torturers (http://www.infowars.com/supreme-court-ruling-means-torture-may-return/), its going to be business as normal and with the legal immunity the army is now receiving its going to be business as normal. Closing Guantanamo Bay will just force alot of these issues under ground.

  3. 4 floriano
    December 16, 2009 at 12:59

    I think Obama is actually closing Guantanamo and not moving it because the detainees are relocated to other more secure facilities where they will be tried and convicted if found guilty as oppossed to treat ment in Guantanamo where they were just kept for years. So overall I think Obama made the right decision.

  4. 5 Roberto
    December 16, 2009 at 13:29

    RE “” Republican lawmakers are furious “”

    ————- Yet barely a peep out of them when their poster boys ran the ship of state aground from 2000-08.

    Might be time to transfer most of the 45% Congressional minority republicans to the holding facility to bunk with the Guantanamo prisoners. Birds of a feather and all that.

  5. December 16, 2009 at 13:32

    Once we’ve all got over how nice it is to have a handsome, smiling, mixed-race President with his smiling wife and lovely kids, and generally stopped the ridiculous media love-in, we will start to look a little deeper and see that he’s just like the rest them. They all make outlandish promises to get into power that they don’t or can’t honour. When he said he’d close Guantanamo Bay, we all thought that he’d realise how illegal and unjust the facility is and either release the prisoners or try them properly. No. He’ll just move it somewhere else, call it something else, and carry on just as before. As the song says, ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’.

  6. 7 scmehta
    December 16, 2009 at 13:45

    Closing or shifting of the Guantanamo Bay is by no means the solution to the issue. the real issue is about the rules/laws governing or authorizing the detentions; the inordinate delay in convicting the detainees has made the world suspicious and the authorities disgusted. It’s appalling that it should have taken so long to punish the dreaded convicts/terrorists and the suspected, but innocent, to be freed. Be it the civil or military Court, justice must be dispensed without any further delay; but, no criminal should go unpunished.

  7. 8 patti in cape coral
    December 16, 2009 at 14:47

    “Is Obama closing or just moving Guantanamo?”

    It depends on what he does after that. Are the prisoners going to stand trial, or what?

  8. 9 JanB
    December 16, 2009 at 15:10

    It certainly would be more than just a changing of zipcode because the new facility is much less remote and there will be new personnel, really decreasing the chances of abuse.

    On the question of whether you can detain enemy combatants this long, that’s a question for the lawyers, really. It’s not forbidden by international law per se (the allies held German POW’s for 5 years without charges, perfectly in agreement with the Geneva Conventions.) It depends on whether America decides to view international Islamic terrorism as a criminal or a military problem.

  9. 10 steve
    December 16, 2009 at 15:15

    To make the liberals happy, why don’t they just release them all into Berkeley, California?

  10. 11 Jennifer
    December 16, 2009 at 15:21

    Re: 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?”

    I’d be furious too. These are NOT “common” criminals. Give them a trial and you give them a platform.

    The only thing changing about Gitmo is the zip code.

  11. December 16, 2009 at 15:30

    I am originally from Chicago, and the vast majority of my family and friends totally support this decision, if for no other reason than the jobs that it will create. Some of them can never be released, but laws like everything else, must remain fluid, to some degree. Laws are sweeping generalities which cannot possibly anticipate every single decision. Personally I would rather these people rot in prison for the rest of their lives than they become martyrs either at their own hands or those of the state. At least with the prison on American soil, we can ensure that there will be no more pictures of torture which inflame the passions of terrorism and help recruit.

  12. 13 piscator
    December 16, 2009 at 15:59

    It would be easier for the US to offer tem ID changes, free airline tickets, and 50,000 bucks a year providing they kept quite and legal.

    Anything else will lead to more trouble. You could not now effectively try these people – anywhere.

    Maybe Obama should offer them to Castro.

  13. 14 Chintan in Houston
    December 16, 2009 at 16:04

    This is exactly the two faced approach by the Obama administration is a cause of frustration to a lot of Americans.
    The prisoners won’t get a fair trail regardless of where they are. For e.g. the chief perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks got will be tried in the CIVILIAN courts in NYC since he has admitted to his crimes, whereas on the other hand the accused in the bombing of USS Cole will be tried in MILITARY TRIBUNAL court since he has not admitted of his involvement in the attack and also the FBI does not have enough evidence/witnessess to prove that he is guilty.
    USA is a nation of laws and it is very important for us to live up to that. We can’t ask anyone to adhere to international laws like the Geneva convention or believe in the International court in Hague if we are not willing to do it as well.
    What I really want to see is the guilty administered fitting punishment and the innocent let go so that we can put this behind us and that will do justice to the innocent lives lost in the horrible act of terrorism and also gain back credibility to the US justice system.

  14. 15 Tom K in Mpls
    December 16, 2009 at 16:07

    On the whole , I find it is an excellent idea. As for Republicans, of course they protest. An Obama plan is not going as promised, they love it. This is no surprise to any realist. As to US security, in this supermax facility, they may as well be on the moon. This will also mean up to 200 stable jobs to the area. No problem.

    I believe that as long as there are people willing to commit rather random acts of mass murder, a facility like this will be needed. A choice between dozens or more lives, and a failed prosecution. But the way it was run in the past is unacceptable. It was too easy for our government to grab and forget someone. We can not let our government gain so much power by selling us fear.

  15. 16 derrick kwashie from ghana
    December 16, 2009 at 16:18

    I believe, obama is just changing the detention facility to a different one, not called guantanamo. so the rest of us can pat him on the back and say well done mr president. but hey! that is a significant move by the president, considering the sensitivity of the whole guantanamo thing to the american people and the rest of the world.

  16. 17 T
    December 16, 2009 at 16:50

    If he doesn’t allow them to be tried in civilian courts, then yes he’s just moving it.

    While terrorism is never funny the reactions of various Congresspeople is laughable. You want them to be held and tortured at Guantanemo. Then when they’ll be moved and finally tried, not in MY neighborhood. Yet another example of no accountability.

  17. 18 Dennis Junior
    December 16, 2009 at 16:56

    *Do you think Obama is actually closing or really just moving Guantanamo?*

    President Obama is simply doing what the Amnesty International folks are commenting that, he is simply moving GITMO to Illinois in the United States…And, not doing what he promised in his first days as President of the United States ….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  18. 19 Ibrahim in UK
    December 16, 2009 at 18:03

    The location of the prison is irrelevant while the US refuses to determine if these people are guilty before forcing them to rot to death in prison under pain of torture.

  19. 20 viola
    December 16, 2009 at 19:20

    Moving the prisoners to Illinois is not solving the problem. It is just moving it. If it won’t be a problem in Illinois, why was it a problem in Guantanamo?


    • 21 Jennifer
      December 17, 2009 at 15:20

      This is a very good comment. I agree. Why is it that it’s ok for these people to come here in the middle of the U.S. yet it was so wrong for them to be at Guantanamo?

      I think those that are wanting these people tried like other criminals should consider that these are NOT common criminals. When you give them attention, you give them credence and it’s exactly what they want.

  20. 22 T
    December 16, 2009 at 19:36

    What’s Obama going to do if any of these terrorists are found innocent? The irony is that most of the Guantanmo detainees are innocent. And, any confessions obtained under torture are inadmissable in court.

    If any are found innocent the Dept. of Justice will just keep retrying them (no matter the cost or how ridiculous it looks).

    • 23 JanB
      December 16, 2009 at 20:23

      There is a difference between being innocent and there not being admissable evidence against someone. By the way, there is no real precedent of how to deal with this kind of prisoners who fall between the definitions of enemy soldiers and common terrorists (although Israel has been facing the same problems with its detainees.) The Obama administration understands that and it seems they choose between the Geneva Conventions and civil law on a case by case basis: some detainees will be tried as criminals (like Timothy McVeigh), other will be held as POW’s (who can legally be held until Al Qaida and the Taliban sign a peace treaty with the United States.)

  21. 24 claudine
    December 17, 2009 at 02:03

    The USA should follow their own principles:
    Innocent until proven guilty
    They should bring everyone in the normal legal time frame to court .
    It should not be that they just detain people indefinitely without bringing them to court.

  22. 25 Tan Boon Tee
    December 17, 2009 at 04:42

    On paper, it is.

    In reality, it is not quite the case.

  23. 26 piscator
    December 17, 2009 at 10:17


    “There is a difference between being innocent and there not being admissable evidence against someone.”

    That is called ‘smear tactics’ a process often used by those with little respect for the law, which recognises only the guilty and the innocent. Smear tactics have the great advantage of being cheap and nonprovable. They demean your motives.

    Regards your statement about ‘POWs’, and signing peace treaties with the Taliban and Al Qaida, neither of which are hierarchical as Governments understand it, is rather like saying you wish to sign a peace treaty with the internet, or Wiccans. I do believe the USA had the same trouble dealing with the native Americans – they couldn’t get it into their heads that they did not have a formal government.. There is an amazing continuity of erroneous thought in politics.

    • 27 JanB
      December 17, 2009 at 16:46

      “Regards your statement about ‘POWs’, and signing peace treaties with the Taliban and Al Qaida, neither of which are hierarchical as Governments understand it, is rather like saying you wish to sign a peace treaty with the internet, or Wiccans.”

      Yeah, exactly, that’s why the government has so much trouble figuring out what to do with the detainees. Neither the Geneva Conventions nor civil law are adapt to handling insurgents. That’s why the government can choose, on a case by case basis, how it treats the detainees: Geneva or civil law, indefinite detention or a trial in a civil court. International law has to be adapted to account for insurgencies as Israel has been arguing.

  24. 28 viola
    December 17, 2009 at 18:59

    If this moving to a prison in Illinois actually takes place, the prison should be turned into a kind of university where these prisoners are given a 4-year, top-notch, liberal arts education with all of them majoring in comparative religion with a minor in world history after they become proficient in English.

    Guess I have a lot of faith in the power of education.

    If all these prisoners are innocent, they deserve compensation. A forced university education should appease those who recognize that sometimes guilty people slip through cracks in the justice system. They don’t want them to get off scot-free or actually be lavishly rewarded with no effort made to challenge their core beliefs. Likewise, monetary compensation should appease those who believe restitution should be made.

    At the end, though, they should be deported and never allowed back into the U.S.

  25. 29 kathy o'keefe
    December 18, 2009 at 06:30

    I don’t understand why people in the US whose disagree on taking these prisoners back to the US. They should be trial in the US, if found guilty they should be in US prison. When the UK have to deal with the IRA (terrorists) they dealt with it within the UK soils. I lived in London while the IRA was terrorising UK citizens, I know what its like to be worry about these things but you need to rise above the fear and revenge and treat these people humanly other wise we are no better then them, other wise you have no creditability left

  26. 30 Rico
    December 18, 2009 at 20:00

    If they are “POW” what are they? were they captured during war time? should american and other western soldires be treated the same way when they are captured?(tortured on a regular basis with total disregard if they are guilty or innocent).
    If they are taken to trial or even accused of any wrong doing, why are they in jail?
    International law calls this kidnapping and until the US makes a formal accusation based on proof, they are acting like the terrorist groups in many parts of the world that kidnap people.
    There are already enough cases of “insurgents” from Guantanamo that have been released because they had nothing to with the stupid war or with the US trained terrorist groups.
    They fact that the US is always calling for the rule of law and then is the 1st one to go against it when it’s convenient is work in favor of the terrorist, and loosing support from a lot of countries that initially had sided with the US.

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