The detention facility on our military base at
Operating Guantanamo costs about $450 million a year — or about $2.7 million a detainee, according to the
This is a massive misuse of taxpayer money.
Some of the 166 detainees are slated for trial, while 46 others, the administration says, will be held without trial until the war against terrorism is over, whenever that may be.
More than half — 86 — have been cleared for transfer by the Bush administration, the
The Obama administration announced in late July that two detainees who had been cleared for transfer for years would be sent back to their home country, Algeria. If the pace of these transfers does not dramatically increase, by the end of President Obama's second term, the majority of Guantanamo detainees there today will have been held without trial for almost 15 years.
Guantanamo has devastated our reputation as a champion of human rights, weakened our international partnerships and remains a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists.
The hopelessness at Guantanamo led detainees to go on a hunger strike this year — more than 100 at its peak. Twice a day, military personnel force-feed them with a tube inserted through their noses. For some detainees, this has been going on for more than five months. This large-scale force-feeding violates international norms and medical ethics.
Military personnel at Guantanamo face challenging conditions but operate with professionalism and dedication. It is not our military that has failed; it is our policymakers.
Efforts by the administration to transfer or prosecute most of the remaining detainees have stalled, while a recalcitrant
This is unacceptable. The administration must create a program for transfer or trial for those who remain, so Guantanamo can be closed once and for all.
How should the 166 individuals at Guantanamo be handled?
First, Congress and the administration should expedite efforts to transfer the 86 detainees already cleared for transfer. This includes 30 non-Yemeni prisoners and 56 Yemenis. The president should exercise his authority to transfer the non-Yemeni detainees to other countries, where they could remain in custody. The 56 Yemenis could be sent to Yemen or Saudi Arabia, where those governments could hold them so they do not attack the U.S. or our allies.
The administration should finally begin the long-promised periodic review board hearings to evaluate the more than 70 detainees who have not been cleared for transfer. The board must permit detainees to challenge their continued detention, and over time, those who do not pose a threat should be transferred to other countries.
As chairwoman of the
It is time to close Guantanamo.