Obama Offers New Plan to Close Guantanamo Prison

The prison at Guantanamo has been a blot on America’s national honor since it opened a decade and a half ago. Men have been held there without trial from the beginning, and for a nation founded on the idea of individual liberty and limited government, nothing could be more appalling. It’s very existence is antithetical to the idea of America. President Obama vowed to close it when he ran for the office in 2008, and earlier today, he offered yet another plan to close it down. Thanks to Republican Party that would rather betray 240 years of American tradition than give the president a win, this plan is dead on arrival.

In suggesting that the prison be closed, Mr. Obama said, “Let us go ahead and close this chapter. I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is. And if, as a nation, we don’t deal with this now, when will we deal with it?”

If the reaction of the GOP leadership is anything by which to go, America will never deal with it. “We’ll review President Obama’s plan,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “But since it includes bringing dangerous terrorists to facilities in U.S. communities, he should know that the bipartisan will of Congress has already been expressed against that proposal.”

With all due respect to the senator, there are a number of New Yorkers who believe justice demands that these men stand trial before the survivors of 9/11 just as surely as the survivors of the Oklahoma City Bombing were able to try those who committed murder among them. The residents of Kentucky may be such cowards that they elect a man who takes Mr. McConnell’s stand, but New Yorkers have lived with a target on their collective backs for years.

However, Mr. McConnell sounds positively moderate and openminded compared to the Republican Party’s candidates for the presidency. “Not only are we not going to close Guantanamo – when I am president, if we capture a terrorist alive, they are … going to Guantanamo and we are going to find out everything they know,” said Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

“Let me say this Mr. President: don’t shut down Gitmo, expand it and let’s have some new terrorists there,” Ted Cruz said at a rally. “How on earth does any president look in the eyes of a mother or father whose son or daughter lost their lives capturing these terrorists and justify, we’re going to release them again when we know a very high percentage of them are going to return to waging jihad to try to murder innocent Americans?” That isn’t what the president has proposed, but one will leave it to Donald Trump to call Mr. Cruz a liar.

As for Mr. Trump, “This morning I watched President Obama talk about Gitmo, right, Guantanamo Bay–which, by the way we are keeping open. And we’re going to load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We’re going to load it up.”

So, it is safe to say that, when Mr. Obama leaves office at noon on January 21, 2017, there will still be men at Guantanamo who have not been tried. It will be, along with failing to jail the bankers who crashed the world economy, one of his biggest failings.

However, it is better to fail at doing what is right than it is to succeed at doing what is wrong.