Reprinted from The Guardian
Guantanamo has been a pockmark on our society ever since it opened. The detention facility itself is a human rights abomination, but it's not just the physical center that is a problem -- it is the spirit it embodies. The policy of indefinite detention in Gitmo makes a mockery of the US constitution. That's why, as Barack Obama makes his latest impassioned and forceful plea to close it once and for all, it is shameful that he is leaving in place the practices that enabled it to flourish in the first place.
It's unlikely that Guantanamo will actually be closed by the time Obama leaves office, given the half measures and hesitations in his first term that allowed Congress to throw up legal roadblocks to transferring prisoners to the US. But, even if Obama succeeds, that won't be the end of this dark chapter in US history. As long as the unconstitutional policy of indefinite detention and the disastrous military commissions remain, so too will the stain on America's reputation.
Indefinite detention -- holding detainees for what is now decades with no trial or even charges of any kind on the horizon -- is about as antithetical to American values and the constitution as it gets. There are dozens of detainees that are cleared for release now -- and have been cleared for release for years -- that still remain behind bars on the US military base in Cuba. But there are dozens more that the US considers "unfit for trial" but "too dangerous to release." (Many of them can't be tried because the US tortured them.)
How Obama is going to get a Republican-controlled Congress to pass anything in this election year he did not explain, but it sounds like just as big of a fantasy as getting a new US supreme court nominee through the Senate in the same time frame. The military commissions should've been scrapped years ago, and will continue to haunt whatever administration is voted into office this November.