Guantanamo may move, but it’s not closing

This column from the Jerusalem Post caught my eye: Rule of Law: If Guantanamo closes, are West Bank courts next?

The writer appears to be under the illusion that all the Gitmo detainees will get civilian trials or be freed. That makes him wonder whether such a victory for the critics would then put more pressure on Israel’s own use of administrative detention. He writes that both systems “face fierce global and internal criticism regarding their legitimacy and fairness.” So, if we close ours, then the entire focus will be on Israel — as if that would then be the only other thing left for the world to complain about.

Well, fear not. I discussed this in Guantanamo Clarity, and the basic circumstances are not changing. The detention camp at Guantanamo may be moving, but it’s not closing. I am not saying Obama will continue to be stymied by Congress (although I do hope that he is). I am saying that his intention was never to let every detainee go.

It’ll be just like Guantanamo but with a different climate.

President Obama’s plans originally suggested the detainees would be moved to a civilian federal prison in the U.S. Now, it doesn’t even look like it’ll be a civilian facility. His latest plan is to move them into a military prison. Some detainees would be transferred to other countries, but that’s happening anyway, regardless whether Gitmo remains where it is.

Detainees who cannot be charged and tried in a courtroom will still not be charged and tried.

You might wonder what there is to gain from this. The conditions for the detainees can’t get any better than where they are now. Guantanamo can afford to be a bit like a minimum security prison where it is now. They can’t safely do that within the U.S. The only benefit to the detainees would be in having something new to complain about.

Guantanamo was always the moral solution among unpleasant alternatives.

Remember that when President Obama signed his executive order on “closing” Guantanamo, Democrats still had both the House and Senate under their control. It was during this period that they passed laws restricting the use of funds to transfer detainees into the U.S.

Among Democrats in the House and Senate, very few really want Guantanamo closed, other than by moving it elsewhere. Senator Dick Durbin wants it moved, but first suggested using a currently empty prison in his home state. Now he still wants it moved, but he wants it moved elsewhere. It’s all a charade.

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