Obama's Prisoners Dilemma

A Blueprint for Dismantling Guantánamo

Courtesy Reuters

On his second full day in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be closed within a year. The question is, how? Will the Obama administration insist that all detainees be either prosecuted or released, as Human Rights Watch and other groups have recommended? Or will it effectively move Guantánamo onshore by closing the facility in Cuba but continuing to detain certain individuals without trying or even charging them?

Obama's order of January 22, 2009, leaves this question unanswered. Although the directive calls for reviewing the cases of the roughly 240 individuals still at Guantánamo to determine who should continue to be detained, it defers any decision about the grounds on which those people would be kept in custody. It does not resolve whether detainees will be prosecuted in regular federal courts, or their detention will be extended

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