In 2008 during his initial presidential campaign, President Obama made it known that one of his goals as president would be to shut down a military prison and interrogation camp located on an American naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In January 2009, the White House released a statement the public that Guantanamo Bay would be shut down within the year. However, the detention center is still open and holding detained enemy combatants, more commonly known as prisoners of war.
All of the people held at Guantanamo Bay are accused of being part of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Since the opening of the prison, 775 enemy combatants have been detained there, most of whom have been released without being charged. As of January 2016, 93 detainees remain.
If closed, the remaining enemy combatants will be transferred to other countries with the exception of those who are viewed as too dangerous to be transferred. Those prisoners will be transferred to prisons within the U.S. However, current laws state that it is illegal to transfer terrorists into America and that law is not likely to disappear any time in the near future. Even if this law did not exist, some Americans are hesitant to potentially have terrorists in their state.
One of the main reasons that Obama is insisting on closing Guantanamo Bay is because keeping it open is costing the government, what he sees as an unnecessary amount of money. The President has also mentioned that closing the prison would be like closing a chapter in American history, moving on from the past and into the country’s future.
As for some of the current presidential candidates’ opinions on the matter, Donald Trump believes that there should be more people detained in Guantanamo Bay, and Ted Cruz believes that the American government should give the land back to Cuba. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have similar views on the subject; in the past both candidates had voted against closing the prison. However, as of late both have been supportive of shutting down Guantanamo Bay.
To hear more from Obama on the closure of Guantanamo Bay, go to the President’s YouTube channel.