Holder: We’re Still Trying To Close Gitmo

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The Obama administration is still committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Attorney General Eric Holder told the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee on Tuesday:

“We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and then – and after that election, we will try to close it as well,” Holder said. “Some people have made this a political issue without looking at, I think, the real benefits that would flow from the closure of the facility.”

This seems optimistic on Holder’s part, and not just because it assumes Barack Obama will be reelected. He’s certainly right that partisan politics is a big reason the facility remains open.

Although there was once bipartisan agreement between 2008 candidates Barack Obama and John McCain on closing Gitmo, opposition to moving the detainees to American soil turned out to be even more bipartisan. Shortly after Obama’s election Democrats voted to deny the administration funds for closing the facility, and since then Congress has tried to impose more restrictions on the administration’s abilities to transfer detainees out of the facility, whether to third countries or to federal courts for trial. Civil liberties groups also balked at the administration’s decision to retain and therefore ratify the Bush-era policy of indefinite detention, and panned the administration’s plan to move the detainees to a federal prison in Illinois as “Gitmo North.”

Holder also committed to holding a military commissions trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, after the same bipartisan opposition scuttled the administration’s plan to try them in federal court. The Washington Times reported in early September that the officer overseeing the military commissions “is taking a go-slow approach that would bring the confessed Sept. 11 mastermind to trial months, or perhaps years, from now.” Even if, somehow, the administration found a way to transfer most of the rest of the 173 detainees left at the facility, including the 46 designated for indefinite detention without trial, the commission for the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators would probably still keep the facility open for the foreseeable future. And I don’t believe even the administration thinks that scenario is remotely likely.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate