Guantanamo Bay Shows No Signs Of Being Closed Down Anytime Soon
The supermax security facility at Guantanamo Bay shows no signs of closing down–not for a while yet, anyway. In a renewed commitment to incapacitate dangerous Islamists from the U.S. mainland, an Arizona Army National Guard unit will begin patrolling the facility in the New Year. Their mission is scheduled to last approximately nine months, but considering President Donald Trump’s commitment to stopping terrorism, you never know.
“There was some discussion some time back about actually shutting it down. Right now that’s not what’s going to happen so it’s still very important for us service members to be prepared to go and continue that mission,” said Arizona Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major Fidel Zamora. (Source: “AZ Army National Guard soldiers deploying to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba,” Fox 10, December 29, 2017.)
This is quite the reversal from the Obama administration proposal to shutter the supermax jail in 2009. Around nine years ago, then-President Barack Obama issued a request to suspend Guantanamo military commissions for 120 days and to shut down the detention facility that year. However, that never happened. On May 20, 2009, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90-to-six vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay. (Source: “Funds to Close Guantánamo Denied,” The New York Times, May 20, 2009.)
Although Obama was successful in whittling down the number of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay over the years, he was never able to shut it down entirely. Many of the detainees deemed lower-level security risks were whisked abroad; some were brought stateside. But the most visible living link to the World Trade Center disaster still remains visible, albeit beyond the prying eyes of a skeptical American public.
Right now, that’s anyone’s guess. The stated mission is scheduled to last nine months, but it could easily last longer, depending on how world events shake out. Much will depend on the pent-up demand required to keep the facility relevant.
It’s quite possible that a need will rise in the coming months, now that thousands of ISIS fighters have scattered around the globe. How many dangerous ISIS fighters are picked up abroad by American security forces may be an important factor.