President Barack Obama on Thursday signed executive orders to close the controversial U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. He also called a halt to the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects. (The Washington Post)
What the commentators said
Now comes the hard part—actually shutting down Guantanamo, said Matthew Waxman in Foreign Policy. Sending detainees who aren’t dangerous back to their home countries is one part of Obama’s plan. “The big question is what to do with any detainees who are too dangerous or heinous to send home but who cannot be effectively prosecuted.”
Obama can’t just transfer the likes of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to a place like Kansas’ Fort Leavenworth, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. That would merely relocate “Guantanamo to American soil under another name.” And any process Obama uses to replace military tribunals will invite the same “left-wing attack lines” that plagued George W. Bush.
“Assuring fairness and civilized conditions for the accused, while protecting the nation from bloodthirsty enemies, is harder in this war than in most,” said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. “But the new administration can do better than the last one did.”
Fixing this part of “Bush’s grotesque legacy will be a lot harder than closing the prison,” said The New York Times in an editorial. And the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation policies will make it tough to give those prisoners who really are dangerous anything resembling true American justice. But in his first hours in office, Obama has made a good start.