This Tuesday, President Obama spoke in the White House’s Roosevelt Room to discuss his plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba. His 9-page plan to close down the terrorist detention camp was then delivered to Congress, along with a legal analysis of potential immigration consequences if a portion of the 91 Guantanamo prisoners were relocated to the US.
The document, which remains predictably vague on important details, includes four sections:
• Details regarding the relocation of 35 detainees approved for transfer
• The process by which the Administration will review the remaining detainees
• The goings-on in military commissions proceedings
• Options for where to take the remaining law of war detainees
The plan fails to include the location in the US to which detainees will be sent, a cost analysis for that facility, and plans for the disposition of detainees in the future.
The cost to operate the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp during 2015 has been estimated at $445 million. Obama’s public plan argues that if between 30 and 60 prisoners are transferred to an undisclosed facility in the US, annual operating costs would drop by at least $140 million.
The administration then tacks on a “one-time transition cost at a US facility” of between $290 and $475 million. Over the next decade, overall savings would be “at least $335 million.”
But cost is not the most important factor here. What is vital to any Guantanamo closure agenda is a legal analysis of the privileges and rights a detainee could ask for once he arrives in the US – not to mention the litigation risks involved.
The Obama Administration hopes Congress will rely on its immigration legal analysis, despite the suspicious footnote: “This report focuses on the specific information sought by the reporting requirements in section 1039 and does not purport to address all issues presented by, or that may arise from, the relocation of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.”
During his speech, President Obama argued that Guantanamo “does not advance our national security,” “harms our partnerships with other countries,” and is “contrary to our values.” He then blamed Congress for repeatedly preventing him from closing the facility – despite the fact that his controversial actions in 2009 are a big reason Congress is against him on the issue.
This plan is not a legitimate plan, but an incomplete report card on the same actions that have been taking place since 2002 when the prison opened.
While many suspect the plan to be part of Obama’s plot to later point to the “obstinate Congress” and say that its inaction on the issue forced him to go it alone, others balk at the idea of importing more terrorists into the United States in the wake of the Paris attacks and in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Back in December, Obama claimed that “only a handful” of those released from Guantanamo Bay had returned to terrorism. In reality, a full 18% (196) of them reverted to their old ways.