Nine years ago today, a Department of Defense C-141 transport plane carrying 20 prisoners arrived in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. On that day, January 11, 2002, the naval base began operating as a detention center for men captured in President Bush’s so-called “war on terror.” Today, the detention center at Guantánamo Bay enters its 10th year of operation. More than 170 prisoners continue to be detained indefinitely there.
Although President Obama signed an executive order on his first full day in office to close the prison camp, Guantánamo remains open, and its very existence continues to be a stain on America’s reputation at home and abroad.
President Obama is now reportedly considering issuing another Executive Order that would permit the ongoing indefinite detention of Guantánamo prisoners, but would establish a periodic administrative review process for them. As we’ve pointed out countless times, this is a losing proposition: if the government has enough credible evidence against a detainee to justify holding him indefinitely, it should use that evidence to prosecute him in a federal court.
As for those prisoners who continue to be held despite a court determination that they should be released — remember the plight of the Uighurs? — release and repatriation is the answer. Unless we put an end to the practice of indefinite detention with which Guantánamo has become synonymous, a promise to close Guantánamo will merely be a symbolic gesture.
President Obama vowed to close Guantánamo. Today’s the day to remind him of that promise. Send him a message: tell him to act now.