The Guantánamo Challenge

World Welcomes Obama's Order, But the Route From Order to Closure Could be a Rocky One

Even if President Obama’s order to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay will have at best a superficial effect on America’s detention program, the news of its eventual closure was greeted by a worldwide expression of relief. In another year, one of America’s most public embarrassments in the war on terror will be nothing but an unpleasant memory.

UN torture investigator Manfred Nowak called the move a “sign of goodwill,” but added that freed inmates should be allowed to sue the United States over their mistreatment, saying “justice also means to look into the past.”

At least that’s the hope. But according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates the route from here to there will not be an easy one, and the question of how to close the facility is a “challenge we will continue to face.” The method through which this will finally happen is unclear, and Gates says there is “a lot of work to do” in the meantime.

It seems apparent that whatever route the administration takes, many of the detainees simply will not be released. The real question is what will happen to them, and where it will happen.

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.