WASHINGTON — The Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed within the next decade because it undermines U.S. security, a member of the House defense appropriations committee said Tuesday.
“As long Guantanamo continues to exist, it undermines our credibility throughout the world,” said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.
Moran, speaking at New American Foundation panel discussion, said that lax screening methods and large bounties offered for suspected detainees have meant that there was “insufficient justification to detain people for a decade in some cases.”
Another panelist, Col. Morris Davis, who resigned from his position as chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions in 2007, said he was optimistic when President Barack Obama promised to close the detention facility, but felt extraordinary “disappointment when he caved in on his promise to close Guantanamo and close the military commission.”
In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal in late 2009, he wrote the administration had relied on a “double standard” justification in determining how a detainee should be tried.
“The administration must choose. Either federal courts or military commissions, but not both, for the detainees that deserve to be prosecuted and punished for past conduct,” he wrote.
He was fired from his post with the Congressional Research Service the day after the piece ran.
The passing of the National Defense Authorization Act, Davis said, allows the facility to remain open “indefinitely.”
Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, wrote in The New York Times that the facility should remain open as long as the U.S. continues to use military forces overseas.
“The U.S. government may prefer not to send additional detainees to Guantánamo for the time being because of Obama’s hasty promise during his campaign to shutter it,” he wrote. “But as long as the United States maintains its longtime policy of using military force in foreign countries and on the high seas, sooner or later Guantánamo will be used again.”
The fact that the detention facility will remain open for the foreseeable future may not only reflect Guantanamo as the “least justifiable facility controlled by the U.S.,” but also present a long-term economic problem, Moran said.
He said 1,850 military and civilian personnel maintain a compound for 171 captives at a cost of more than $800,000 dollars per year for each detainee. The administration spent $17 million to run Guantanamo military commissions in 2011, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.