Obama Circulates Draft Order Allowing a Year to Close Gitmo

Bump and Update: The Obama Administration is circulating a draft of an executive order allowing for up to a year to close Guantanamo. As the Center for Constitutional Rights says, that's too long.
It only took days to put these men in Guantanamo, it shouldn’t take a year to get them out. We are proud that President Obama made addressing Guantánamo one of his first acts in office. Yet we are disappointed that he outlined no concrete steps for closing the base and gave his administration an entire year to sort out its plans – meaning that some men could have been detained indefinitely in terrible conditions for eight full years. Surely he could do better.


President Obama should commit to dismantling the military commissions, not just suspending them, and to prosecuting any cases before federal criminal courts – real courts with real laws.


Original Post: How to Close Guantanamo

The ACLU has submitted a five step plan (pdf)to the Obama administration for closing Guantanamo. A component of it is ending the show trials created pursuant to the Military Commissions Act.

You can read their plan here (pdf). The final appendix to the plan contains a list of all of the detainees still held at Guantanamo, and their country of origin.

In response to the military judge's granting of the prosecutor's motion today (pdf) to suspend the military tribunal proceedings for 120 days while Obama studies what to do, the ACLU responds:

“On Day One, President Obama kept his promise to halt the unconstitutional military commissions by ordering the prosecution to seek a 120-day suspension. Had the proceedings continued, the Bush administration would have permanently tied his hands and stopped him from being able to fulfill a top level campaign promise. Within the next 120 days, we trust that the President's team will be studying and finalizing plans and a timeline for permanently closing Guantánamo, shuttering the military commissions and ensuring justice is served in the best of American traditions.

President Obama's ‘time out’ comes at the perfect time in these shameful military commissions and shows he means business on Day One. President Obama has to restore an America we can be proud of again by once and for all shutting down Guantánamo and its shameful military commissions.”

On Monday, the ACLU delivered to the Obama transition team its comprehensive plan to close Guantánamo and handle the remaining detainees. The plan was sent to White House Counsel Gregory Craig, Attorney General designate Eric Holder, Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others, to be considered alongside the Department of Defense proposal commissioned by Secretary Gates.

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  • Display: Sort:
    David Iglesias has been reactivated (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:01:56 PM EST
    To handle the proscution at Gitmo.
    Per KRQE
    "We want to make sure that those terrorists that did commit acts will be brought to justice -- and those that did not will be released."

    there's still the issue of (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:11:29 PM EST
    what to do with evidence obtained through torture and overly coercive interrogations. What does Iglesias plan to do about that?

    And what acts require being brought to justice? Is attending a training camp or meeting and expressing anti-American sentiments enough, or does it require actual engagement in a terrorist act?


    No argument from me (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:18:15 PM EST
    I agree with you on the issues you raise.

    I do think putting Iglesias in charge may good thing. I am not opposed to a legitmate prosecution, if a legitimate prosection may be had. He appears to be ethical by all reports. And it is another finger in the Bushies eye.

     I hope todays events portend a movement back to the rule of law.


    A year is about 51 weeks too long. (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by scribe on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:09:05 PM EST

    Another year lost in young lives (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:30:04 PM EST
    and old among the innocent?  There are some who have spent as much as a fourth of their lives there now, right?  And some who may not have many more years to live.

    This is not acceptable.  Please, would the president think about what he has said about the importance of even a day in his daughters' lives and realize the importance of a year of days in others' lives?  If we haven't gotten evidence -- legally, ethically -- by now about some detainees, the evidence simply is not there.

    Why drag it on? (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:45:35 PM EST
    Obama has never been a bold politician. He's very methodical and deliberate. To expect anything different now is unrealistic.

    I guess one year is better than the comments I read attributed to him last week, when he said he would be disappointed if he couldn't close it by the end of his first term.

    The only way Gitmo is going to close is if the American public continues to apply pressure on him to do it.

    He may as well close it now. Nothing positive can come out of there. The whole program is so tainted that it a total loss.

    Justice delayed (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:51:30 PM EST
    is justice denied.  I don't think it can be closed in a week, but a year is not good enough.  I think the language says up to a year--we need to apply pressure to make the actual time that elapses between inauguration day and closure of Gitmo is as short as possible.

    Of two minds... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by JohnRJ08 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:18:38 PM EST
    While I am very glad that Obama is going to close Gitmo, I have mixed feelings. The fact is that there are some very dangerous actors being held there. They would slit your child's throat right in front of you with a big smile on their face if they got the chance. I don't want those people to walk, whether they've been tortured or not. If we're interested in the others getting fair and humane treatment, sending them all to their home countries may not be the best solution.  They could end up much worse off. Given that, it doesn't surprise me that it might take a year to work out what will be done with all these prisoners. It needs to be done right.

    Gitmo (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by DenverDave on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:47:46 PM EST
    I want to see this place closed as much as anyone but as a previous commenter pointed out there are some hardcases incarcerated there. Since it seems that prosecuting them is all but impossible in some cases, through no fault of the Obama administration, something has to be worked out. If President Obama just releases them and they go on to kill someone I'm sure he would regret it tremendously and also pay a political price for others mistakes. Let's give them some time to see if some kind of good solution can be reached.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#12)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 06:26:58 PM EST
    While Bush let them languish for up to seven years with no charges, in less than a year each will now be evaluated and charged and moved, or released. I suspect the releases will happen sooner rather than later.

    My assumption is that many will be released, but to release all overnight without evaluation by the new legal team would be foolish and negligent. With about 245 prisoners remaining, some possibly very dangerous, the evaluation and relocation process will still have to be quite rapid to have it wrapped up in less than a year.

    By comparison, the jury I was on recently was trying a man who has been in jail for six years on a murder charge without being found guilty yet. It's not always an easy or pretty process.


    I'm still waiting to see (none / 0) (#9)
    by kmblue on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:58:18 PM EST
    some steel in Obama's spine.  On this issue, at least, it ain't happening.

    Cowardice from the get-go (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:13:28 PM EST
    How encouraging.  The place could close in exactly 24 hours if WE REALLY WANTED IT TO.  Guess he doesn't.  Guess he wants to look like he does, but when it's time to step up, no no, delay up to a year.  I repeat: coward.