On Sunday, John Bellinger forcefully summarized the main arguments for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Having served as the Department of Defense Special Envoy for Guantanamo Detention Closure in the Obama Administration and as Director of the DOD Office of Legislative Counsel at the end of the Bush Administration, I agree with John’s conclusion. While a safe, humane facility, GTMO hurts us more than it helps us.
Latest in Detention & Guantanamo
On Saturday, I wrote a post for Just Security titled “Whitewashing Guantánamo,” in which I explained how three different data points from the past week underscored a consistent and troubling pattern by the Trump administration—to rewrite the history of Guantánamo in a way that seeks to take the Bush Administration off the hook (“it was those pesky judges’ fault”), and to blame the Obama Administration for all recidivism by former detainees (the data is conclusively to the contrary) and for the plodding pace o
It is hard to believe that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is back in the headlines fifteen years after it opened and eight years after President Obama ordered it closed. Having been present at its creation in 2001/2002 and having supported its closure in 2009, I want to provide a few observations for those new to the controversy. Drawing on some of my past posts, I will remind readers why Guantanamo was opened and why I believe it should now be closed.
Why Guantanamo Bay Was Opened
Yesterday morning, President Trump appears to have been watching Fox & Friends when he saw a troubling statistic: 122 former Guantánamo detainees have re-engaged in terrorism after their release. So the President took to Twitter:
This past Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced renewed efforts by Iraqi forces to retake western Mosul from ISIL, which would include about 450 U.S. advisers “operating closer and deeper into Iraqi formations,” according to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend. News of the surge was eclipsed, however, by a suicide bombing carried out by the Islamic State. The attack consisted of three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, commonly called VBIEDs.
The indispensable Charlie Savage has just posted the latest iteration of the Trump Administration’s planned Executive Order on detention issues, along with an article placing that draft in context (including helpful insights from Jack Goldsmith and Ryan Goodman).
“The Trump White House is nearing completion of an order that would direct the Pentagon to bring future Islamic State detainees to the Guantánamo Bay prison,” reports Charlie Savage. This development gives new urgency to the enactment of an ISIL AUMF.
Wednesday’s news that the Trump Administration was preparing an executive order addressing the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants, coupled with President Trump’s interview comments that “torture works,” has resulted in understandable but premature panic over a potential policy allowing for detainee abuse.
Last week, Ben posted an order by Judge Royce Lamberth of the D.C. District Court granting a request by counsel for Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri to have a copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee's interrogation report held under seal with the court.
The other day, Quinta and I noted that counsel for Abd al Rahim Al-Nashiri had asked the court in his habeas case to have a copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee's interrogation report filed under seal with the court. Yesterday, Judge Royce Lamberth issued an order doing just that: