Topics in the News: Guantanamo

Elizabeth Warren on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Dec 19, 2019)
Guantanamo prison is an international embarrassment

Q: Pres. Obama pledged to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, but could not: 40 prisoners remain there. Last year, taxpayers paid $540 million to keep Guantanamo open. Would you pledge to finally close the detention facility and if elected, how will you do it?

Warren: Yes, it's time to close this detention facility. It not only costs us money, it is an international embarrassment. We have to be an America that lives our values every single day. We can't be an America that stands up and asks people to fight alongside us, as we did with the Kurds in fighting ISIS, and then turn around in the blink of a tweet and say that we're turning our backs on the people who stood beside us. After that, who wants to be an ally of the United States? We have to be an America that understands the difference and recognizes the difference between our allies, the people who will work alongside us, and the dictators who would do us harm. And we need to treat our allies better than we treat the dictators.

Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate

Justin Amash on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jul 29, 2019)
Wants to close Guantanamo prison

Amash has always been something of a wild man compared to the Republican status quo, and a "close, but not perfect" kind of libertarian ally. Not yet 40, he is the son of Palestinan father and a Syrian mother, both Christian. It's almost impressive that he hasn't fielded more tinfoil-hatted accusations of being a secret backer of Sharia law--though he has been accused of being in the tank for Al Qaeda for wanting to close Gitmo.
Click for Justin Amash on other issues.   Source: The New Republic magazine on 2020 presidential hopefuls

Tim Ryan on Guantanamo: (Immigration Jun 26, 2019)
Terrorists treated better than children at the border

Q: Should it be a crime to illegally cross the border? Or should it be a civil offense only?

There are other provisions in the law that will allow you to prosecute people for coming over here if they're dealing drugs and other things. There's no need to repeat it. It's abhorrent the way these kids are being treated. If you go to Guantanamo Bay, there are terrorists that are held that get better health care than those kids that have tried to cross the border in the United States. The president should immediately ask doctors and nurses to go immediately down to the border and start taking care of these kids. The end result is now we've got kids literally laying in their own snot, with three-week-old diapers that haven't been changed. We've got to tell this president that is not a sign of strength. That is a sign of weakness.

Click for Tim Ryan on other issues.   Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami)

Mike Gravel on Guantanamo: (War & Peace Apr 10, 2019)
Cut military budget by 50%, close all military bases abroad

The Gravel campaign has put out a 29-page platform. It includes cutting the military budget by 50%, closing Guantanamo Bay, ending the use of drones, vowing not to invade any sovereign nation in the absence of a first strike, closing all military bases abroad, and abolishing the Senate and the electoral college. "My message, centered around an anti-imperialist foreign policy and fundamental political reform, is one that no other Democratic candidate is making the centerpiece of their campaign."
Click for Mike Gravel on other issues.   Source: Current Affairs magazine, 2019 article series

Donald Trump on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jan 30, 2018)
Keep Guantanamo open; stop releases & add new prisoners

Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.

In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield--including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.

So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa'ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists--wherever we chase them down.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: 2018 State of the Union address

Hillary Clinton on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Feb 23, 2016)
Close Guantanamo detention center

Hillary Clinton said that she backed President Obama's effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center but stressed the terrorist suspects would not necessarily be transferred to a military jail: "The president hasn't made any decisions about where the transfers will go," Clinton said in South Carolina.

Clinton was put on the spot when the president announced a new plan to shut down the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer dozens of high-risk terrorist detainees to maximum security prisons in the United States, which could include the military facility in South Carolina. The plan immediately hit opposition from Republicans in Congress, who cited longstanding bipartisan opposition to bringing captured terrorists to the US.

"The president is trying to figure out what to do with people who are too dangerous to be released," Clinton said. "All I can hope is that the Congress will work with him."

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Washington Times, "Clinton backs GITMO closure"

Donald Trump on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Feb 23, 2016)
Keep Gitmo open, and load it up with bad dudes

Donald Trump promised to keep open the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then riffed on ways that he could do it on the cheap: "This morning I watched President Obama talking about Gitmo," said Trump. "Guantanamo Bay--which by the way, we are keeping open! And we're going to load it up with some bad dudes. We're going to load it up."

Trump then mused about one of the Obama administration's reasons for trying to shut the prison down: "Here's the thing I didn't understand," he said. "We spend $40 million a month on maintaining this place? Now, think of it--$40 million a month! What do we have left in there, like, a hundred people, or something? And we're spending $40 million? I would guarantee you I could do it for a tiny, tiny fraction. I don't mean $39 million. I mean maybe $5 million, maybe $3 million. Maybe, like, peanuts."

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Washington Post, "Cuba should take over Guantanamo"

Rand Paul on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jan 28, 2016)
Let's get warrants the old-fashioned way: via 4th Amendment

Sen. Rand PAUL: Ted Cruz said he was for NSA reform, but then he told Marco Rubio, "no, no, no, I voted for the bill because I'm for the government collecting 100% of your cell phone records."

RUBIO: When I'm president we are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities. And they're going to tell us where the terrorists are. And if we capture any of these ISIS killers alive, they are going to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we're going to find out everything they know.

PAUL: The bulk collection of your phone data, the invasion of your privacy did not stop one terrorist attack. I don't think you have to give up your liberty for a false sense of security. When we look at this bulk collection, the court has looked at this. Even the court declared it to be illegal. If we want to collect the records of terrorists, let's do it the old fashioned way. Let's use the Fourth Amendment. Let's put a name on a warrant, let's ask a judge for it. Let's respect the history of our country.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: 2016 Fox News Republican two-tiered debate in Iowa

Michael Bennet on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Oct 5, 2015)
Mixed history on transferring Gitmo prisoners to US prisons

Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet is now voicing concern about transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Colorado despite voting three times against legislation that would have blocked terrorists from being moved to prisons in the US. Pentagon officials are currently visiting prisons, including one medium-security facility in Colorado, to determine whether they could house Gitmo detainees.

Bennet protested, "The Department of Defense has no authority to transfer these prisoners or make such modifications and they have made no case that it makes sense to do so."

However, Bennet has not supported legislation that would have blocked the administration from transferring any Gitmo detainees, from 2009 through 2013. He voted [against] amendment in 2009 that would have blocked funding to "construct or modify a facility in the United States or its territories to permanently or temporarily hold any individual held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Click for Michael Bennet on other issues.   Source: Washington Free Beacon coverage of 2016 Colorado Senate race

Bernie Sanders on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Sep 5, 2015)
2009: Voted against closing Gitmo; 2015: supports closing it

Bernie supports closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp the United States maintains on the Cuban island, noting it has "significantly damaged the United States' moral standing, undermined our foreign policy, and encourage terrorism rather than effectively combated it." His opinion refers to abuse and torture, as well as the unlawful detention of inmates at the military prison Amnesty International has called a "gulag of our times."

In 2009 Bernie voted against the proposals the Obama administration suggested for closing the prison. The bill was defeated with strong bipartisan support (90-6). Given Bernie's human rights concerns regarding the facility, he likely voted against it because the plans did not address the human rights violations--including being held indefinitely without trial--that he and so many other Americans are most concerned about with regards to Guantanamo.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website, "Issues"

Rand Paul on Guantanamo: (Foreign Policy Jan 1, 2015)
Where do Ron and Rand Paul disagree on foreign issues?

Where Ron Paul and Rand Paul agree on Foreign issues
  • Both oppose Iraq War
  • Both oppose Cuban embargo
  • Both agree on rights for Guantanamo detainees
  • Both agree on non-intervention abroad
  • Both oppose the TSA
  • Both oppose the United Nations
Where they disagree:Ron PaulRand Paul
Iran:Stay out of Iran Keep options on Iran
Israel:Cut off all aid Maintain alliance
Privacy vs National Security:Privacy first against terrorismSpying on terrorists ok
Foreign aid:End foreign aid Limit foreign aid
Military Spending:Cut absolute defense spendingCut relative defense spending
Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Analysis: Ron Paul vs. Rand Paul on the Issues

Ted Cruz on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Dec 11, 2014)
Torture was rightly outlawed, but keep tactics classified

Cruz took a stand against torture: "Within 48 hours, President Obama has set Guantanamo Bay detainees free, and Senate Democrats have endangered Americans all over the world by releasing classified tactics, which have since rightly been outlawed, used by the intelligence community in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," Cruz said in a statement "After six years, enough with saying 'everything is George W. Bush's fault.' It's sad that, with all the threats we face across the globe, Senate Democrats are still more interested in scoring political points against the Bush Administration than in working together to keep America safe and our military strong."

Like Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio weighed in with one of the strongest responses, in a joint statement with Idaho's Sen. Jim Risch, calling the release of the report "reckless and irresponsible" and demanding a more current detention and interrogation policy.

Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: MSNBC 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jun 1, 2014)
Don't let released terrorists get back onto the battlefield

Q: On the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl: Was this a wise thing for the president to do [exchanging one American POW held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 5 terrorist suspects held in Guantanamo]?

BERNIE SANDERS: I suspect that if you ask Bergdahl's feelings about what happened, they will feel very, very good. I think we need to have more information about the long-term consequences, and do everything that we can to make sure that these terrorists do not get back onto the battlefield.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Rand Paul on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security May 26, 2013)
Give trials to Guantanamo detainees

OBAMA (VIDEO CLIP): I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any US citizen with a drone, or with a shotgun without due process.

PAUL: I was pleased with his words, However, there still is a question in my mind of what he thinks due process is? You know, due process to most of us is a court of law, it's a trial by a jury. For example, last year we passed legislation that I voted against, and that's detaining citizens indefinitely without a trial, and sending them to Guantanamo Bay.

Q: The president did speak about closing Guantanamo. Do you think it should be closed?

PAUL: No. I think it's become a symbol of something though, and I think things should change. For example, I think the people being held there are bad people. What I would do though is accuse them, charge them, and try them in military tribunals, or trials. And I think that would go a long way toward showing the world that we're not going to hold them without charge forever.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: ABC This Week 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Ron DeSantis on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Nov 6, 2012)
Gave legal support to Gitmo terrorist detention center

As a JAG officer in the United States Navy, he supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Iraq.

He is currently an officer in the reserve component of the United States Navy. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He has lectured on the law of war at Florida Coastal School of Law.

Click for Ron DeSantis on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website,, "Issues"

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jun 8, 2011)
OpEd: Failed promise to close Guantanamo loses left votes

Obama won a lot of the Left votes by promising to close Guantanamo and by claiming to be the anti-war candidate. But Guantanamo still operates and the American involvement in wars has escalated in Afghanistan and Libya. Some on the Left are so upset that they want someone with Left credibility to run against Obama in the primaries. If many on the Left abandon Obama, he will lose a lot of fundraising sources. And he might lose enough votes in the swing states and lose the general election.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Why She Will Win, by Ron Paul Jones, p. 17

Jesse Ventura on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Apr 4, 2011)
Secret behavior control drug experiments on Gitmo detainees

It's recently come out that the Pentagon forced all the detainees at Guantanamo prison to take high doses of a drug called mefloquine. Supposedly it's used to combat malaria, but that didn't seem to make any difference. Our military brass knew that mefloquine had severe side effects, like suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and anxiety.

To me, this shows the continuing influence of those "experts" we brought here from Germany after WWII. Here you have doctors stating that you need to know complete background of the patient before using this substance--and they're injecting these people with this drug as soon as they're checked in!

A document from 2002 shows that "standard inprocessing orders for detainees" included 1,250 mg of mefloquine, five times higher than the dose given to people as preventative. And it's being given not for its intended purpose, but to study its intended side effects! I'm speechless. What ever happened to the physician's oath to "do no harm"?

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: 63 Documents, by Gov. Jesse Ventura, p.273

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jun 1, 2010)
No habeas right for detainees outside of US

The Boumediene ruling [concluded in 2008] that prisoners in Guantanamo are entitled to the right of habeas corpus. The Bush administration decided to ship prisoners in Guantanamo to Bagram, in Afghanistan, as though it was some sort of a silly game--fly your abducted prisoners to Guantanamo and they have constitutional rights, but fly them instead to Bagram and you can disappear them forever with no judicial process." Obama adopted the Bush position, "filing a brief in federal court that, in two sentences, declared that it embraced the most extremist Bush theory on this issue." Obama's argument amounts to saying that prisoners flown to Bagram from anywhere in the world--in the case in question, Yemenis and Tunisians captured in Thailand and UAE--"can be imprisoned indefinitely with no rights of any kind--as long as they are kept in Bagram rather than Guantanamo.". [This was] in radical violation of Obama's campaign promises and earlier stands."
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.262-263

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security May 18, 2010)
Moving Gitmo to Illinois was logistically & legally complex

The real issue [with closing Gitmo] was the difference between a political perspective and a legal one. Why couldn't the legal counsel's office figure out some way to keep those pesky resettlement questions out of Obama's face?

The backdrop was the administration's failure to fulfill one of Obama's most widely publicized promises: closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay by Jan. 1, 2010. Early in the transition a group of lawyers wrote a report for Obama explaining how legally and logistically complex shutting the prison would be. After the Inauguration the Pentagon reported that finding a site in the US for the prisoners was difficult. When the government finally settled on an underused federal prison in Thomson, Illinois, planners learned that it would take many months to renovate.

Without sustained presidential attention and someone assigned exclusively to Gitmo, closing the prison would be tough. For months, Obama simply let one of his signature campaign promises slip between the cracks.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p.340-341

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Apr 13, 2010)
OpEd: Promised to close Guantanamo but it's still open

You may disagree with many of these promises. You're probably glad they failed. But don't let that stop you from using them to defeat Obama.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.262

Joe Walsh on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Feb 2, 2010)
Keep prisoners at Guantanamo; try them in military tribunals

Q. Should the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed?

A. Guantanamo Bay should not be closed and the prisoners there should not be transferred to the United States and specifically not to the state of Illinois. The individuals being held there are enemy combatants and should be tried in military tribunals, not civilian courts.

Click for Joe Walsh on other issues.   Source: Chicago Tribune Editorial board questionnaire responses

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Sep 1, 2009)
Promises to close Guantanamo & treat prisoners as POWs

The Bush administration argued that because [prisoners at Guantanamo] are not state-sponsored, they are not entitled to the usual protections of the Geneva Convention, and have no rights to our time-honored (and constitutionally guaranteed) principle of habeas corpus. The Bush White House had been staunchly opposed to giving detainees access to civilian courts, later arguing that military tribunals sufficed. Constitutional lawyers argued--and the Supreme Court agreed--that such a position was impermissible and that habeas corpus extends to those captured in a time of war even if they don't fit into traditional categories.

President Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and remove the "unlawful enemy combatants" status from those detained. Both charges will accelerate resolution of the basic questions that remain: What is the adjudication process and what is the standard against which their actions will be measured to justify release?

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Test of our Times, by Tom Ridge, p.144-145

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Foreign Policy Jan 29, 2009)
OpEd: Maintaining Guantanamo base violates international law

After taking office, Barack Obama said the decision to return to its legitimate owner of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo naval base required weighing up the extent to which the defensive capacity of the US would or would not be affected.

Soon afterwards he added, with regard to the return to Cuba of the occupied territory, that he would first consider what concessions to demand from Cuba to return. This would amount to demanding a change of its political system, a price Cuba has been resisting for half a century.

To keep a military base in Cuba against the will of our people is a violation of the most elemental principles of international law. The US president has the ability to abide by that law without exacting any concession whatsoever. Non-compliance would be an act of arrogance and an abuse of his immense power against a small country.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obama and the Empire, by Fidel Castro, p. 18

Merrick Garland on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jun 24, 2008)
Release non-enemy combatants from Guantanamo prison

In the first civilian judicial review of the government's evidence for holding any of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, a federal appeals court has overturned a Pentagon tribunal's decision in the case of one of 17 Guantanamo detainees who are ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority from western China.

The imprisonment of the 17 Uighurs has drawn wide attention because of their claim that although they were in Afghanistan when the US invaded in 2001, they were never enemies of this country and were mistakenly swept into Guantanamo.

The one-paragraph notice from the appeals court said a three-judge panel [including Merrick Garland] found in favor of Huzaifa Parhat, a former fruit peddler who made his way from western China to a Uighur camp in Afghanistan. "The court directed the government to release or to transfer Parhat, or to expeditiously hold a new tribunal," the notice said. It said the court had found "invalid" the military's decision that he was an enemy combatant.

Click for Merrick Garland on other issues.   Source: N.Y. Times, "Guantanamo Detainee", by William Glaberson

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Dec 13, 2007)
Restore habeas corpus to reach Muslims abroad

If you were a Muslim overseas listening to Rudy Giuliani say “they are coming here to try to kill you,” which is the tenor of many of the speeches that are delivered by Republicans, you would get an impression that they are not interested in talking and resolving issues peacefully. Now, what we need to do [to reach Muslims] is we need to close Guantanamo. We need to restore habeas corpus. We need to send a strong signal that we are going to talk directly to not just our friends but also to our enemies.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR

Barack Obama on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Jun 19, 2007)
Close Guantanamo and restore the right of habeas corpus

Why don’t we close Guantanamo and restore the right of habeas corpus, because that’s how we lead, not with the might of our military, but the power of our ideals and the power of our values. It’s time to show the world we’re not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. We’re not a country that runs prisons which locks people away without ever telling them why they’re there or what they’re charged with. We’re not a country which preaches compassion to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of major American cities. That’s not who we are.

We’re America. We’re a nation that liberated a continent from a mad man, that lifted ourselves from the depths of depression, that won civil rights and women’s rights and voting rights for all our people. We’re the beacon that has led generations of weary travelers to find opportunity and liberty and hope on our doorstep. That’s who we are.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference

Mike Gravel on Guantanamo: (Homeland Security Dec 25, 2006)
Raze Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons to the ground

Click for Mike Gravel on other issues.   Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website,, “Issues”

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