Wednesday, March 15, 2017

More on Closing Guantanamo

On Monday, I posted about the call by Bush Administration top national security lawyer, John Bellinger, to close the detention facility at Guantanamo.  Today, Paul Lewis, the former Special Envoy for Guantanamo Detention at the Department of Defense, has an excellent post making the same argument.  Paul, by the way, served in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.  The most interesting point he makes is that virtually every Defense Department official who has lived with the issue has come to the same conclusion:

We are all familiar with the primary arguments to close GTMO: it costs too much, it is a recruiting tool and propaganda tool for terrorists (a conclusion reached by both President Bush and President Obama), and it is disdained by the international community. But beyond these individual factors, it is crucially important that the national security leadership of both the Bush and Obama Administration reached the same conclusion. In the best judgement of both Administrations, GTMO hurt us more than it helped us. Both presidents, five secretaries of Defense (Rumsfeld, Gates, Panetta, Hagel, and Carter), and four secretaries of State (Powell, Rice, Clinton, and Kerry) reached the same conclusion. (Yes, even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ultimately concluded GTMO should be closed—if an alternative location were selected.)
I urge the new Administration to reach the same conclusion. As John states, before bringing new detainees to GTMO, the new Administration would be wise to consult with the bipartisan national security experts from both previous Administrations. This list of experts includes a long list of retired military leaders, including former Marine Commandant, Gen. Charles Krulak and former CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Hoar.
As Lewis explains, this does not mean that we release all of the remaining 41 detainee.  He advocates moving them to a federal detention facility in the United States, continuing to securely place those who have approved for transfer, and continuing to use the Periodic Review Board process to evaluate whether others can be safely transferred as well.

Read the entire article here.

Again, by way of full disclosure, I represent one of the detainees at Guantanamo.

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