US to transfer Guantanamo inmates to 2 countries
The Pentagon plans to move roughly a dozen inmates from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to at least two countries. The transfers come as the Obama administration takes steps to close the controversial facility, which has been called a recruiting tool for jihadists. The transfers are likely to begin in the coming weeks; however, authorities did not disclose their destinations.
What is Guantanamo Bay?
The Guantanamo Bay military prison was set up in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks. It was supposed to deal with prisoners who were termed "enemy combatants" and denied many US legal rights. Since 2002, it housed 780 detainees, but as of 2015, there are only 112 inmates. It was in controversy as almost $2.5 million were spent per detainee in the Bay prison.
The criticism of Guantanamo Bay
In its report in 2003, Human Rights Watch had criticized the Bush administration for ignoring human rights standards while treating terrorism suspects. NGO Amnesty International called the prison a forced labor camp in 2005. Lord Steyn, a British jurist, called it a monstrous failure of justice in 2003 as there was no way that detainees would get a fair trial for justice.
Criminals housed in Guantanamo
Guantanamo houses five accused plotters of the 11 September 2001 attacks. Among them is the self-proclaimed mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Guantanamo detainees banned in new Senate bill
The Senate passed a bill that would ban moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to US. The bill also prohibited using funds to build or modify a prison in the United States to house those detainees. Former White House counsel Gregory Craig and Cliff Sloan claimed that this law was unconstitutional as SC had disallowed Congress to pass bills that were beyond their constitutional powers.
The bill prohibits detainees to be transferred to US, but the constitution gives the President the exclusive executive authority to make tactical military decisions, which he can use to transfer the detainees.
Pentagon to release report to close Guantanamo Bay
Pentagon had sent experts to review US sites, which could house the most dangerous criminals if Guantanamo Bay is closed. The report would be published in some days. Since he was chosen as the President in 2009, Obama was pushing to close the facility which was made on the US naval base in Cuba. It was also one of his key election pledges.
Which US sites were considered by the experts?
Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and a federal prison complex in Colorado were studied by the experts.
Senators oppose Obama's move to close Guantanamo
Senator Tim Scott said that Obama was gambling with national security to keep a campaign promise. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner said that he would not be silent about the President using political promises to endanger the people of Colorado. Gardner said that it was against the law to use any taxpayer money to assist with the transfer of a detainee to United States.
Obama pushes for closing Gitmo
President Barack Obama called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility after delivering his plan for closure to Congress. The blueprint comes seven years after Obama made an Oval Office vow to permanently shut the prison for captured enemies. The plan involves transferring the bulk of detainees to other countries and moving the rest to an undisclosed facility in the US.