Advancing a Free Society

How the next 10 years of Guantanamo should look

Friday, January 13, 2012

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the hand-wringing is in high gear. There have been op-eds by former detainees, a statement by retired military personnel, denunciations of President Obama for his failure to close the site and tear-stained statements by human rights groups.

In a decade of policy experimentation at Guantanamo, some efforts have succeeded, some have failed tragically and some are still in process. But far more interesting than the past 10 years is what the next 10 will look like. And that subject seems oddly absent from the current conversation.

Make no mistake: There will be another 10 years of Guantanamo. (Even if Guantanamo itself miraculously closes, we’ll have to build it again somewhere else.) Our forces already hold more detainees than they can safely release or put on trial before any tribunal to which this country would attach its name. And in any future conflict against non-state actors, our forces are likely to capture more of such people, and they will have to put them somewhere.

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