Defense Secretary: Gitmo May Close, But We’ll Keep Base

Says Closing Prison 'Would Be Nice'

Speaking today at his “Worldwide Troop Talk,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said it “would be nice” to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and move all the detainees someplace more convenient within the United States.

At the same time, Carter insisted that closing the prison wouldn’t mean the US would give up the military base there, and that the US intends to keep Guantanamo Bay, irrespective of Cuban objections, going forward with or without a prison at the site.

The US has had a naval base at Guantanamo Bay since 1903, making it the oldest overseas US naval base. Cuba has sought to cancel the lease on the base for over 55 years, and for decades the base’s primary value was because of US hostility toward Cuba. Since 2002 it was also a detention center, used by the US government to detain people without charges, and outside of the jurisdiction of US courts.

President Obama has claimed to want to close the detention center there, but has made no actual efforts to do so. With the recent rapprochement between the US and Cuba, the White House has promised to “discuss” Guantanamo Bay, though officials maintain that the permanent, trivially cheap lease on the base that they secured in the wake of the Spanish-American War is likely to remain in place, irrespective of Cuban objections.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.