14 Years Later, Still No Clarity on Gitmo Closure

Detention Center Seems Certain to Survive Obama's Pledges

14 years after it was initially opened, and 7 years after President Obama promised to close it, the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is open and active, still housing around 100 detainees, roughly split down the middle between those uncharged and cleared for release, and those uncharged but intended to be kept in detention essentially forever.

Dubbed a “national shame” by the ACLU, the detention site was initially opened outside of the United States on the notion that basic legal rights simply wouldn’t apply to those held overseas, and people could be held without charges as long as the government saw fit.

While this has remained the underlying policy of US governments since then, Congress has largely codified Gitmo’s status as a legal black hole at this point, and indeed seemingly has authorized open-ended, extra-judicial detention on demand for presidents.

In many ways, this means Gitmo’s initial purpose no longer exists, as laws like the NDAA appear to empower officials to run comparable operations inside the US anyhow. That, along with the huge PR problems associated with Gitmo, would seemingly have it set for closure.

But Obama’s pledge to close the site in 2009 came and went, and even though he keeps insisting he’s super determined to get the facility closed before he ends his term, it seems all but certain at this point the site will outlast him.

Where the facility goes from there is anyone’s guess, but the momentum behind closing the facility appears to have dried up compared to where it was in 2009, and it almost certainly will be an even lower priority candidate for Obama’s successor.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.