The Guantanamo riddle

Barack Obama’s plans to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison are unlikely to see the light of day.

They are already in limbo as legal hurdles, one after another, kept popping up. The latest to surface is another unclassified report which revealed how the Justice Department and the Pentagon tried to convince Congress that existing laws provided robust protection of the national security, and if prisoners are brought to the mainland, they won’t simply walk free on the orders of the court of law.

The intentions behind providing this assurance was to somehow get the X-camp closed, and bring an end to the blot on American conscience. But that is not working. The statutory ban on bringing Guantanamo detainees into the US remains in force. Legislators fear that judges might order detainees to be released on the grounds that the country is no more in a war situation nor are the prisoners anymore considered an enemy fighter. The question is what will happen then? This question has kept Congress on its toes, and even hampered the process of offering prisoners to a third country for repatriation. Perhaps that is why Uruguay voluntarily offered to take in five condemned inmates so that some legal jiggling is experienced in the status quo.

The point is that Congress doesn’t want itself to be surprised by the judiciary through proactive decisions of releasing the inmates once they come under civil litigation. It is all about the trust deficit, and a lacuna in the relevant laws, which could inevitably come to the rescue of the detainees of yesteryear wars. It’s high time Obama rejigged his priorities and got the camp shut down before its inmates breathed their last.

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