White House officials say they’re getting close to delivering a plan to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as Congress has demanded for years. There’s one problem: a key part is illegal — at least for now.
Current U.S. law forbids the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to prisons on U.S. soil — and yet there are some prisoners who cannot be sent anywhere else, Deputy National Security Advisor Lisa Monaco said Saturday.
“We are going to whittle down this group to what I refer to as the irreducible minimum, who would have to be brought here to a secure location, held under the laws of war, continuing under military detention, and that’s the only way we’re going to be able to close Guantanamo,” Monaco said at the Aspen Security Forum. These prisoners would be prosecuted in the military justice system or federal courts and subjected to a “supermax cell,” Monaco said. “Ultimately, that’s the way we’re gonna do it.”
Here’s a thought.
Don’t close Gitmo.
Since 9/11 the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has evolved into a sophisticated prison. And many of the terrorists there must not ever be allowed freedom.
The whole point of placing the prisoners there was to keep them out of the reach of US federal courts, where the storm of writs of habeas corpus would clog the judiciary endlessly. That’s why the Congress passed legislation prohibiting the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the US.
As to international law concerning the prisoners there, well, international law can change. In effect, it is what we say it is.
The argument against indefinite detention is weak as well. Closing Gitmo will not suddenly bring respect to the US from nations aligned against her. It will simply embolden international antagonists to move on to the next objective.
Of course, that runs against the plans of our current President. He has spouted much rhetoric about closing Gitmo, but done nothing to achieve it. For once, I’m pleased at his inaction on a promise. One suspects, however, that he, in a bid for a legacy, wants very much to close it, and suspects somewhat that he desires to return the US Naval Base there to Cuba.