Today while speaking in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama re-iterated his intent to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. This statement brought forth new debate in Congress and within the European Union.
On his second day in office, President Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay’s terrorist detention center within one year. But just weeks ago, a bipartisan Congressional vote of 90 to 6 denied President Obama’s request for $50 million for the closing and redistribution of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
Both Democrats and Republicans know that their constituents do not want these prisoners in local prison facilities. The Democratic majority stated they will continue to block war funds for the closing of Gitmo, and FBI Director Robert Mueller says closing Gitmo poses a great national threat to the United States.
Closing Gitmo means that some probable terrorists may be released to their native lands or transferred to other third world countries, where they’ll return to their terrorist battlefields.
The more dangerous ones may be transferred to other U.S. prison facilities. It is possible that, behind community prison bars with other kinds of prisoners, these terrorists would “convert” others to their jihadist standards, thus increasing the possibility of terrorist attacks. Some terrorist prisoners could participate from prison in terrorist sleeper cells here on U.S. soil.
The European Union has stated that some European countries may be willing to share information about these detainees and accept them into their borders. However, Germany rejects the idea of accepting Chinese detainees who were trained in Afghanistan, stating that even one detainee has the potential to travel around and gain influence for his movement.
New Poll shows overwhelming support for keeping Gitmo Open. This past Tuesday, a USA Today/Gallup Poll showed the following results:
40% say that having the Gitmo prison has strengthened national security rather than weakened it. Only 18% said the opposite, with the rest undecided.
54% favored Gitmo remaining open.
About 65% oppose detainees being transferred to other U.S. prisons.
There are currently 241 prisoners in the Guantanamo detention center. In March, 2009, The Associated Press reported that five Guantanamo prisoners charged with the Sept. 11 attacks claimed to be “terrorists to the bone.” A court filing of their testimony states they referred to Sept. 11 as “the great attack on America.”
President Obama suspended their trial in January for an evaluation of war crimes trials. He also directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil. The review will look at whether al-Marri has the right to sue the U.S. government for his freedom; a right the Supreme Court already has given to Guantanamo detainees. Al-Marri is suspected of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.
-Obama Speech in Cairo Text:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/04/obama-speech-in-cairo-vid_n_211215.html.
-Obama signs order to close Guantanamo in a year: Ben Feller, Associated Press, 1/22/09: http://www.rr.com/view/content/story.cfm?storyId=6636085&view=HOME&newsgroup=9000&sSect=HOM_1.
-USA Today/Gallup Poll:http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-06-01-gitmo_N.htm.
-Associated Press, Guantanemo trial: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090310/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/cb_guantanamo_sept11_trial.
-Fox News Broadcast, 6/4/09, 12 pm Eastern Standard Time.