Early yesterday President Barack Obama announced a plan to permanently shut down Guantanamo Bay, taking another step towards fulfilling a promise he made to the American people at the dawn of his eight years in the Oval Office.
Controversial since its inception during the second Bush administration, the detention facility has seen about 780 detainees, 151 of which have been released under Obama’s presidency and 91 of which still remain. Obama now seeks to transfer the latter out of the facility, either onto U.S. soil or to countries elsewhere, in an effort to close down the camp entirely.
The blueprint he proposed to Congress suggests that 13 states are being considered as possible alternatives to the detention center, including South Carolina, Kansas and Colorado.
This effort, he said, is not only about dealing with the remaining inmates, but also about moving past a particularly dark period in recent wartime history stained with a failure to uphold “the highest standards of rule of law.”
The delay in doing so, he explained, was largely a result of the opposition that he faced from Congress soon after entering office. The bipartisan support fell apart and, as a result, so did any previous efforts to deconstruct the facility.
Nearly eight years and two thwarted executive orders later, Obama continues to insist on its closure. “Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values,” he said, “It undermines our standing in the world.”
Republicans, however, were quick to vocalize their disapproval. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the president’s blueprint failed to include the necessary details and added, “It is against the law — and it will stay against the law — to transfer terrorist detainees to American soil.”
Senator John McCain reaffirmed this sentiment, saying the proposal was neither credible nor coherent.
In what seems to be yet another persuasive effort, the administration emphasized the financial benefits of the blueprint. U.S. officials said Tuesday that it would save the government between $65 and $85 million per year if the plan were to become legislation.
However the means, Obama seems set on making good of one of his biggest promises to the American people. “I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever that is,” he said.
Image: Screengrab from WH.gov