Wanna Close Gitmo? Great. Now Who's Going to Take All These Prisoners?
As we prepare for the dawning of the age of Obama in exactly two weeks, this weekend provided another reminder it's going to take more than a feel-great election and historic inauguration to clean up the mess of the past eight years.
Obama has promised time and again to quickly shutter the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, on the southern coast of Miami's friendly neighbor to the south, and his transition team has already been working hard to figure out how to make it happen.
But chief among the gigantic questions Obama will have to answer is what to do with the 250 inmates still inside the barbed wire. A full 60 of them have already been cleared for release, but no one on Earth wants to let them live inside their borders. Just this weekend, Australia told the U.S.: "um, thanks but no thanks," to a request to repatriate some Gitmo detainees.
Bush's team has reportedly asked more than 100 nations to take in Gitmo inmates, with little success -- but experts say Obama might have better luck, owing simply to the fact that he's not universally loathed. Still, Obama has a lot of tough questions to answer about Gitmo in the early days of his administration -- especially if he wants to quickly establish he's not the same guy who threw civil liberties out the window in the name of the war on terror.
Even more troubling, as Time magazine reports today, even if Obama closes Gitmo, the U.S. military has another, even larger detention camp for detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Those detainees also receive no habeas corpus rights and have reportedly faced torture in interrogations. The best part? There are "only" 250 prisoners left in Gitmo. At Bagram? Obama is going to inherit 670 at last count.
-- Tim Elfrink
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