Speed Reads

John Oliver Explains

John Oliver breaks down why Guantanamo Bay needs to be shut down, pronto

Time is running out for President Obama to follow through with his promise to close down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and John Oliver warns if he doesn't get it done before he's out of office, terrible things could happen under the next president.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, Oliver called the fact that Gitmo is still open one of Obama's "inarguable failures." A poll found that 52 percent of Americans think it should remain open, and while he sees the appeal — "potentially dangerous people are locked up and far away" — there are more reasons to shut it down. First, it's very expensive — in 2015, it cost $445 million to keep it operating, or $7 million per person. It's also giving countries like Sudan, Iran, and Libya reasons to call the U.S. out for rights violations.

After explaining the history of Guantanamo and how the U.S. still sends a measly rent check to Cuba every year, Oliver launched into details about the detainees. Leaked documents have shown that of the 710 prisoners released, most were not the "worst of the worst," like some politicians like to say. Almost half were found to be entirely innocent, Taliban conscripts, or transferred for no reason listed on their file, and some were incarcerated because they had a certain type of Casio watch that was known to be used by al Qaeda members as timers. There are just 61 detainees still at Guantanamo, with 31 in a difficult group — they haven't been charged with a crime but are also not cleared to be released. Even Obama, a constitutional law professor, is struggling to figure out what to do with them, and it's only going to get more complicated, Oliver said: The current commander of Gitmo is seeking to renovate the infirmary, saying it will be beneficial as the detainee population ages.

Americans have to ask if this is something we're okay with, Oliver said — having people languish in a prison without charges, while Vladimir Putin judges us for "medieval" practices. We also need to keep in mind our buddy John Oliver, who says that because he owns a Casio watch and has been making fun of Trump for more than a year, he could soon wind up in Cuba. Watch the video — complete with Oliver's Putin impression — below. Catherine Garcia