Since the first detainees arrived in 2002, the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay has become nearly synonymous with the moral and legal quandaries posed by the “war on terror.” The camp’s location—on the island of Cuba, outside U.S. territory but de facto under total U.S. control—creates ambiguous legal obligations. And after the Bush administration began using the Guantanamo naval base as a place to hold detainees in the “war on terror,” questions soon arose over the use of torture and military commissions, along with the legality of military detention itself.  Though President Barack Obama pledged to close the detention center, Guantanamo has proved a difficult knot to unravel: the Obama administration continues to transfer remaining detainee away from the base, but debate continues over when and how Guantanamo will finally be closed. ​

Latest in Guantanamo

Detention & Guantanamo

First Guantanamo Detainee Transfer Under Trump is Delayed

Yesterday, U.S. officials indicated that Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed al-Darbi’s repatriation to his native Saudi Arabia to serve the remainder of his sentence would be delayed past the Feb. 20 deadline set forth in his 2014 plea agreement. The full statement by the spokesperson for the Office of Military Commissions, provided in response to an inquiry by the Miami Herald, reads as follows:


Document: Executive Order on Guantanamo Bay Detention Facilities

On Jan. 30, the president signed the following document to revoke an Obama administration order that directed the closure of the detention facilities at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Findings.

Detention & Guantanamo

The Continuing Need to Close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility

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.

Subscribe to Lawfare