Gitmo: The Facility Will (Eventually) Close, But the Detentions Will Continue

Obama's Push to Close Detention Center at Guantanamo a Largely Symbolic Break From Bush Policy

Updated 1/22/09 12:00 PM EST

A newly drafted executive order signed by President Barack Obama will fulfill a campaign promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The order will require the facility to close within a year. The facility where detainees were held often on little if any evidence was a symbol of America’s post-9/11 hysteria and the excesses of presidential power during the Bush Administration. Its closing will remove the symbol, but a clean break from the policy remains elusive.

The detentions will continue, they will just do so at a handful of yet-to-be-determined military bases in the United States. The Obama Administration has enough support across Europe to allow it to release some of its most embarrassingly innocent detainees into third party nations, and it intends to try some, in a method different from the Bush Administration’s war tribunals, but likely far short of the domestic legal system.

Yet that new legal system isn’t even in place yet, and its unclear what the Obama Administration intends to do with those detainees that it doesn’t intend to release, yet which had such flimsy evidence that even the Bush Administration didn’t dare to try to charge them with any crimes. The short answer is likely that they will do what the Bush Administration did, just in a less conspicuous place, and with a lot less of the baggage that their predecessors had.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.