On January 22nd, President Obama vowed to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by January 2010. The Washington Post reports today that the Administration is now considering moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum-security facility in the United States that would be jointly run by the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.
But the House and Senate have refused to fund President Obama’s Guantanamo closer until he identifies a detailed plan for how to do it. Today’s report is not that plan. Instead, Obama’s Detainee Task Force has been telling the administration they need another six months, at least, to formulate their recommendations. In addition, polls show that Americans oppose the closure of Gitmo by more than 2-1, and by more than 3-1 they oppose moving some of the prisoners housed there to their home states.
President Obama needs to take his time. He must allow the Detainee Task Force to study the issue in-depth. He should listen to the professionals and craft a comprehensive legal framework to put the detention issue on surer footing. When all of that is said and done, the last step is to get Congressional authorization. Then, and only then, will the closure of Guantanamo Bay move forward.