Well over a decade has passed since the first prisoner arrived in Guantánamo Bay, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Almost 800 men have passed through Guantánamo’s cells. Today, 122 men remain. Fashioned as an “island outside the law” where terrorism suspects could be detained without process and interrogated without restraint, Guantánamo has been a catastrophic failure on every front. It is long past time for this shameful episode in American history to be brought to a close.
Twelve years since it first opened, we are still stuck in a multi-branch quagmire, where no arm of government has been able to end Guantánamo’s blight on our reputation and our security. The White House and Congress are beginning to change tack, and Guantánamo must close. Today:
- Congress must lift the unnecessary restrictions on transfer and release from Guantánamo, including for the 84 men whom the national security agencies and military have unanimously determined should be released.
- The president must order his administration to carry out his renewed commitment to end indefinite detention and close the Guantanamo prison. The government should transfer to federal court any detainee who it seeks to prosecute, if there is untainted evidence against them, and transfer all other detainees back to their home countries or to another country if the detainee would be in danger of being tortured or abused if sent home. The president can and should, without delay, authorize the secretary of defense to use existing certification and waiver procedures to repatriate and resettle abroad all prisoners who have been cleared for release.
- The Supreme Court must define the scope of war-time detention, and ensure that the right to habeas corpus is a meaningful one that tests, and does not endorse, the government’s case