President-elect Barack Obama’s promise to close the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay may seem straightforward, and indeed he had been talking about doing just that for much of the campaign. Yet this promise, or rather what to do with the detainees affected by this promise, stands to be a complex affair which will likely involve considerable debate and new legal structures to deal with the challenge.
Those who have advocated that the detainees face real criminal trials in real US criminal courts are likely to be disappointed. The reality is, the constitutional challenges from detainees held for years without charges under dubious circumstances may be too great a burden for an administration trying to appear sufficiently tough on terror. Rather, it seems the new administration is looking into creating a new “national security court” which would handle the trials under some yet-to-be-determined standards of justice.
Not that anything is carved in stone. Beyond Obama’s broad promise to close the facility, details like how to do it or even when to do it are still to be settled by his transition team, and according to some aides the process for making those decisions isn’t even in place yet.