The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been open for 14 years. It’s been seven years since President Barack Obama started talking about his goal of closing the base. Throughout this time, there have been multiple promises, potential time frames, and wonder; but it’s currently easier to believe that it will never be closed, as the United States Congress has rendered such an endeavor nearly impossible.
At the moment there are 91 detainees at the base, and billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money gets spent keeping it open every year. Last Tuesday, President Obama signaled his continued intention to close the prison by stating: “Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law.”
The President’s plan would have some 30 to 60 prisoners transferred to the United States for trial, with others transferred to American military bases around the world.
The prison itself is a source of great controversy in the United States and abroad, and yet it continues to have the support of the Republicans who are running to replace President Obama.
Texas senator Ted Cruz said, “Don’t shut down Gitmo; expand it.” Ohio governor John Kasich said, “I don’t favor closing Gitmo.” Florida senator Marco Rubio argued, “We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out.” Finally, businessman Donald Trump stated, “We’re going to load it up with some bad dudes. We’re going to load it up.”
Even though President Obama’s solution for closing the base involves sending some prisoners currently held at Guantanamo to foreign countries, the question of what to do with those who would step foot on American soil remains.
Although closing the Guantanamo Bay base is an admirable goal, and although it seems as if President Obama has renewed his commitment to this endeavor, the possibility of such a goal being realized during such a polarized time in American politics and government appears unlikely.