Last updated on: 5/27/2009 8:41:00 AM PST
Should the prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), on Oct. 24, 2006, stated in its "Quick Guide Guantanamo," that:

"Guantanamo is a high-security detention camp run by the US at its naval base in south-eastern Cuba. America set the camp up in 2002 to hold foreign terror suspects captured during the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Detainees were first kept in an improvised facility called Camp X-Ray which was replaced by a more permanent structure, Camp Delta, in 2003. As 'enemy combatants,' detainees are not given the same rights as prisoners-of-war or US citizens accused of crimes. The camp once held 750 inmates, believed to be mostly foreigners detained in Afghanistan on suspicion of being Islamist fighters. Most came from mainly Muslim states, but French, Russian, British and other countries' citizens have also been held there. The Red Cross is the only outside organization allowed to visit the prisoners and draw up a register of them. There are accusations of mistreatment and even torture of detainees in the camp. United Nations investigators have called for the closure of the prison which Amnesty International campaigners have compared to a Soviet labor camp. America says prisoners are treated humanely and only a tiny number of cases of misconduct by guards have been recorded."

Oct. 24, 2006 - BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) 



PRO (yes)

Caroline Fredrickson, JD, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office, stated in a July 12, 2007 article titled "ACLU Applauds Amendment to Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center" on the ACLU website:

"For over five years now, Guantanamo Bay has tarnished America's image and diminished our ideals. Its closure is long overdue and welcomed by the ACLU.

The establishment of such a detention facility for the sole purpose of indefinitely holding individuals was inexcusable policy to begin with. Every day Guantanamo stays open, the United States is being led further away from the founding principles of our great nation - liberty, freedom and justice for all."


July 12, 2007 - Caroline Fredrickson, JD 



Robert M. Gates, PhD, US Secretary of Defense, made the following statement during a June 29, 2007 interview on the Department of Defense Media Roundtable:

"[Q]: Can you tell us how seriously you're looking at closing Guantanamo, and whether you've reached any conclusion about whether that's feasible or if you're close to reaching a conclusion?...

[Gates]: I think that, as I said when the chairman and I appeared before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I think that the biggest challenge is finding a statutory basis for holding prisoners who should never be released and who may or may not be able to be put on trial. And I think that this is the challenge that faces both the administration and the Congress. The president said he wants to close Guantanamo. Obviously a lot of people on the Hill want to close it. We want to close it as a detainee facility."

June 29, 2007 - Robert M. Gates, PhD 



The United Nations wrote in its Feb. 15, 2006 report titled "Situation of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay":

"The United States Government should close the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities without further delay. Until the closure, and possible transfer of detainees to pre-trial detention facilities on United States territory, the Government should refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, discrimination on the basis of religion, and violations of the rights to health and freedom of religion. In particular, all special interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense should immediately be revoked."

Feb. 15, 2006 - United Nations (UN) 



Ann Wright, JD, MA, retired US Army Colonel, wrote the following in a Dec. 22, 2006 article titled "5 Years of Infamy: Close Guantanamo:"

"On January 11, 2002, the first detainees from Afghanistan arrived at the prison in the US Naval Base, Guantanamo, Cuba. In the succeeding five years, Guantanamo has symbolized to the world the Bush administration's abandonment of international and domestic law and the development of a policy of inhumane treatment and the use of torture in military and CIA operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and in an unknown number of secret prisons. Over 775 detainees have been held in Guantanamo since January 11, 2002. After five years, no Guantanamo detainee has been convicted of a criminal offense.

I firmly believe that to regain some respect in the international community, for the sake of our national spirit and soul, and for the integrity of the US military, the prison in Guantanamo must be closed and the US military must be removed from adjudicating 'enemy combatants' cases."


Dec. 22, 2006 - Ann Wright, JD, MA 



Amnesty International, stated in a July 4, 2007 press release titled "2000 Days of Guantanamo," that:

"Approximately 375 detainees remain held in Guantánamo, many in conditions that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

US authorities have asserted that between 60 and 80 of these detainees will eventually face trial by military commission, a substandard and discriminatory system of justice that Amnesty International is calling on the USA to abandon.

At least 15 'high value' detainees have been transferred to Guantánamo in the past year from secret CIA custody, affirming Guantánamo's central role in the USA's network of unlawful detentions in the 'war on terror.'

Each day that Guantánamo stays open is one day too long."


July 4, 2007 - Amnesty International (AI) 



CON (no)

Mitt Romney, JD, MBA, former 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts, made the following statement about Guantanamo Bay in response to a question during the second 2008 Republican Candidate's Debate on May 15, 2007 at the University of South Carolina:

"Now you said the person [captured terrorist] was going to be in Guantanamo. I'm glad they're at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers that they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons. I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."

May 15, 2007 - Mitt Romney, JD, MBA 



Dick Cheney, MA, US Vice President at the time of the quote, stated in a June 13, 2005 interview with CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer:

"Q: Should Gitmo -- Guantanamo Bay's detention center be shut down, the detainees moved elsewhere?

The Vice President: No...Because it's a vital facility. The people that are there are people we picked up on the battlefield primarily in Afghanistan. They're terrorists. They're bomb-makers. They're facilitators of terror. They're members of al Qaeda and the Taliban...

For the most part, if you let them out, they'll go back to trying to kill Americans...

They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want. There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

[Editor's Note: The New York Times reported in a Mar. 23, 2007 article titled "New to Pentagon, Gates Argued for Closing Guantanamo Prison," that Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (during a closed, off the record meeting with administration officials) "overruled" Secretary of Defense Gate's attempt to convince the Bush Administration to close down Guantanamo Bay. As of July 23 2007, Vice President Cheney has made no public comments refuting or verifying this information.]

June 13, 2005 - Dick Cheney, MA 



Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, responded to a question during a Feb. 17, 2006 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations by NBC news journalist Andrea Mitchell:

"Questioner:  Yes, sir.  Last night, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that he believes based partly on this latest report from a panel to the United Nations that the human rights abuses that were alleged at Guantanamo were severe enough that Guantanamo should be closed as soon as possible.  And I'm wondering if you can respond to that.

Rumsfeld: Well, I know Kofi Annan, and there are a lot of things you can agree with him on, but he's just flat wrong. We shouldn't close Guantanamo. We have several hundred terrorists, bad people; people if they went back out on the field would try to kill Americans. That's just a fact. And to close that place and pretend that merely there's no problem, it just isn't realistic.


And by golly, that place is being run. There's no torture. There's no abuse. It's being handled honorably. And to the extent anyone does anything wrong, it's reported and they're punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And by golly, that's the way it ought to be."


Feb. 17, 2006 - Donald Rumsfeld 



Jack Spencer, MA, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst for Defense and National Security, wrote in a June 14, 2005 memo titled "No Good Reason to Close Gitmo," that:

"Those who would close the detainment center have failed to articulate a reasonable rationale for doing so. They also overlook a major challenge: there are few options, right now, to replace the detainment center. There are, however, many reasons to keep it open.

The debate over whether or not to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is about much more then that facility itself. It is a debate over how the United States and its allies are conducting the war on terrorism. If the United States concedes that its actions in Guantanamo Bay are such that they warrant closing the facility, how can the U.S. defend keeping other facilities open? And if the United States cannot house and interrogate suspected terrorists, how can it prosecute the Global War on Terrorism?"


June 14, 2005 - Jack Spencer, MA 



Dennis Richardson, Australian Ambassador to the United States, stated in his Oct. 4, 2006 speech "Australia - US Relations and The War on Terror":

"We [the Australian Government] have never described Guantanamo Bay as an affront to democracy.

[T]he US has been asked to do the dirty work by a lot of the world, and Guantanamo Bay has been part of that. And, it's possible to debate whether it was approached correctly in the first place, whether things could have been done more quickly and the like. But, I think there are quite a few countries around the world which want their cake and eat it…they're prepared to openly criticize Guantanamo Bay, however, if the US wants to turn around tomorrow and say, 'well, look, we understand where everyone's coming from, everyone in Guantanamo Bay should now be immediately released,' I think there'd be issues there."


Oct. 4, 2006 - Dennis Richardson