Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Brief Shows How President Obama Still Has Time and Ability to Shut Down Guantanamo
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Brief Shows How President Obama Still Has Time and Ability to Shut Down Guantanamo

Washington, D.C. — With little less than a year left in his second term, too much of the debate on President Barack Obama’s efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay has focused on using executive action to override the ban on transfers to the United States repeatedly enacted by Congress.

Unilateral action to ignore the statutory ban, however, would be impractical and extremely unwise, and the Obama administration should rule out bringing large numbers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States in this manner.

Closing Guantanamo is still possible, as an issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress shows exactly how, over the course of the next year, President Obama could fulfill his pledge and close the prison without running afoul of congressional barricades.

“When President Obama took office in 2009, a strong bipartisan consensus backed closing Guantanamo,” said Ken Gude, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the brief. “However, in the intervening years, naked partisanship has shattered that consensus and erected new obstacles in the path of closing the prison. Despite these challenges, President Obama still has tools at his disposal that make closing the prison for good a real possibility, even with the little time he has left in office. With uncertainty over who the next president will be, this next year could be the last chance we have to close this prison for some time.”

Through a series of steps, it is possible to have all of the detainees removed from the prison and have it shut down before the next president takes office. These steps include the acceleration of transfers for prisoners already slotted for transfer or release; holding Periodic Review Board hearings for all eligible detainees within the next six months; seeking agreements with third countries to prosecute Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes outside the United States; U.S Justice Department review of detainee cases for prosecution and potential plea bargains in federal court; and working with the Afghan government to transfer to its custody remaining law of war detainees captured in connection with the war in Afghanistan.

Click here to read the issue brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.