By: Annette Brinckerhoff
In 2002 in response to a need for a holding center to detain those captured at the start of the War on Terror, congress turned to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The small piece of land in Cuba has since become a stain on the United State’s reputation.
When Obama ran in 2008 he pledged to close the detention center, and in January 2009 he signed an executive order stating that the detention center would be closed within a year. The plan involved a review of each prisoner in order to formally transfer, charge, or release. However, due to restrictions within congress the process has been delayed and the camp remains open.
Now, in 2015 Obama is giving it a second push to close the prison. White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest announced that the administration was in the final stages of closing the prison down. The final closing plan will then have to be approved by congress.
This comes at a time when 14,000 photos from CIA blacksites in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, and others. The images were released as part of the Senate Report on the CIA’s closed interrogation.
There are currently 127 prisoners at the prison; 59 of them have been approved for transfer. The problem is that many of them are Yemeni and cannot be sent back. Slovakia, Georgia, and Uruguay have offered to hold prisoners as legislators have been opposed to using american high security prisons to detain Guantanamo’s residents. Ten of the detainees are waiting to be tried in a special military commission set up by congress.
Cliff Sloan, the State Department special envoy for closing Guantanamo said, “the deep stain on our standing in the world is more dangerous than any individual approved for transfer.” There is also pressure from Havana to close down the detainment center and return control of the land, as U.S.-Cuba relations improve. If a republican congress can give into the social and political pressures, then we may see the end of Guantanamo.