Guantanamo Bay

Obama’s Parting Words on Guantanamo: ‘History Will Cast Harsh Judgment’

from The Wall Street Journal,

'No justification beyond politics' for keeping detention center open at tremendous cost.

President Barack Obama took a parting shot at Congress for blocking his effort to follow through on one of his earliest promises: closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Obama, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), said the restriction lawmakers put on transferring detainees to maximum security prisons in the U.S. “makes no sense.” He also laid down a marker for his successor, Donald Trump, on the eve of his inauguration, saying “history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end.” Part of Mr. Obama’s argument is fiscal. The facility costs more than $400 million a year to operate, he noted, while bringing to U.S. prisons the remaining detainees who are not eligible for transfer to foreign countries would save as much as $85 million annually. Military commissions held there, at an annual cost of $91 million, have suffered “significant, ongoing setbacks” as they attempt ​​to prosecute a handful of detainees, he said. On Thursday, the Pentagon announced it had completed the final three transfers it likely will make. Defense officials announced that the three detainees—Ravil Mingazov, Haji Wali Muhammed, and Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim—all had been sent to the United Arab Emirates After transfers this past week, 41 detainees remain at the facility. Five are eligible for transfer, 10 are involved in military commissions proceedings and 26 are either serving a military commission sentence or have been deemed too dangerous to transfer. “There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress’ insistence on keeping the facility open,” Mr. Obama said.

Outgoing president reduced detention facility's population to 45 from nearly 300

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