The Case for  Closing Guantanamo 

McKenna Helfenberger

Opposing Opinions

Security First

The Case for Not Closing Guantanamo

Thomas Werner

November 17th, 2016

The Obama administration promised early in his presidency that the Guantanamo Bay detention center would be closed. Currently there are 60 detainees residing in the center. The center over the years has been plagued with terrifying interrogations. This includes isolation, shame of sexual taunts, forced nudity, aggressive body searches, and even being kept in diapers. What are the mental effects of this treatment on the minds of the detainees? Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, and depression.


15 years ago, Omar Khadr was one of the youngest detainees at the age of 15. He’d told his lawyers that Guantanamo Bay soldiers had spit in his face and said that they would rape him. He also confessed that during interrogations that he had urinated and soldiers had dragged him through his own bodily fluid; for him,  “this is the room where they used me as a human mop”.

In recent news, Mohamedou Ould Shali was released after 14 years of imprisonment. Shali, author of Guantanamo Bay, told his story of detainment. Shali turned himself in voluntarily to the American Civil Liberties Union in 2003. Shali was subjected to the brutal torture regimented at Guantanamo. The Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 approved a special interrogation plan for him. They used enhanced torture techniques such as beatings, isolation, being shackled to the ground, and severe methods such as being stripped naked and high intensity strobe lights with heavy metal music.


Guantanamo Bay costs upwards of $445 million per year to keep open. We spend $7.29 million per prisoner a year. We also do not own Guantanamo--it’s rented for $4,085 dollars annually. The current commander in Guantanamo wants to have renovations to benefit the “…continued care of the aging detainee population” because 8 detainees have already died at Guantanamo.


52 percent of Americans want to see the prison open. We are in a place of deciding our nation’s morals. Vladimir Putin once said, “They once said that they would close Guantanamo and what, is it closed, no. There’s still people there walking in shackles. That is just medieval without a trial these people stay in prison. … can you imagine if we did that here? I can’t wrap my head around it.” This is coming from a president who has been behind many of the cyber-attacks on the US and took away free speech in Russia.

Many people in the current government believe closing Guantanamo Bay is a sign of weakness. Having this facility at our disposal allows us to act outside the law. We now need to think about who receives the burden of Guantanamo. Most Republican nominees say that the executive order that allegedly decreased the torture methods in place isn’t actually upheld.


Torture is not like it is in movies or TV shows. There is no definitive research that torture works. The Senate torture report finds that the CIA was less effective than expected.


Guantanamo Bay is still not closed after the Obama administration. We must now think about who will be inheriting this detention center, and its mental ramifications. Guantanamo Bay is still open. We now must decide what to do with this small place in Cuba, 90 miles away from America.

Guantanamo Bay  may not be your ideal weekend getaway, but there is a reason for that. The prison houses some of the greatest threats to America, and closing the bay would cause a nightmare for our citizens and country. The question of whether it should close or not is tough; it is a battle between morality and security. Yes, conditions could absolutely improve, but Guantanamo Bay must stay open to preserve national security.


We have to remember these prisoners aren’t your normal run of the mill rapists and murderers. These prisoners are “terrorists of the truest order. In Guantanamo’s case, these are individuals driven by an existential struggle to purify the earth under a banner of Sunni-Salafist supremacism.  They seek America’s alienation from the Middle East so as to enable their overthrow of honorable American allies like Jordan. Then forging a Caliphate in the then ashes of the Middle East, al-Qaeda would  project its terrorizing ideology across the world.”


As a precursor for an unfulfilled promise to close the bay, a total 653 detainees have been released. These releasings have been reckless, irresponsible, and lied about. Obama claimed that among these releasings, only “a handful of them are going to be embittered and still engaging in anti-U.S. activities and trying to link up potentially with their old organizations." However, almost one third of those released have returned to jihadist activity.


The transfer of Ibrahim al Qosi, a senior Al-Qaeda operative and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, to Sudan in 2012 is especially appalling. Wikileaks made public an 11 page assessment of Qosi from U.S. military and intelligence professionals on Joint Task Force Guantánamo, revealing the following: "Detainee is an admitted al Qaeda operative and one of Usama bin Laden's (UBL) most trusted associates and veteran bodyguard...Following a 1994 assassination attempt against UBL, UBL chose detainee to be one of approximately ten individuals assigned to his protection detail...Detainee has been very forthright regarding his commitment to UBL and al Qaeda. He explains his commitment to UBL as a religious duty to defend Islam and fulfill his obligation to jihad...Detainee is assessed to be a HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies." Not a person we’d really like to have out there running around free.


It is important these terrorists stay in Gitmo, for more than just preventing recidivism. Guantanamo prisoners being transferred to the States would not bode well for the U.S. The kind of people in Guantanamo are the kinds that radicalize prisons and use the US Justice System as free publicity.


The main push for its closing comes from a want to fulfill a hollow campaign promise from Obama. The safety of our country is being put second. Yes, Guantanamo has problems. But they can be fixed while preserving national security at the same time.