In September of 2001, the United States endured one of the most catastrophic events in the nation’s history. These terrorist attacks sent a shockwave throughout the entire world. The United States found itself facing a challenging type of enemy: terrorists. Once combat operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. detained many individuals for interrogation and held them indefinitely if they continued to pose a risk to the United States or the rest of the world. The fundamental reason for detaining these individuals was to keep them from rejoining the fight. As such, the U.S. chose to create a detention facility at the Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. By June of 2002, the U.S. had transferred over 500 Taliban and al Qaida fighters to Guantanamo Bay.1
As of December of 2008, that number had decreased to approximately 250 detainees to include 15 “high-value” detainees.2 Throughout the last six years of operation, Guantanamo Bay has faced endless criticism from the international community and from home. Most criticized is the legal “black hole” that exists at Guantanamo Bay and concern over interrogation techniques and torture. In the latter years of his presidency, George W. Bush stated his desire to eventually close the detention facility. In addition, both presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama pledged to close the facility if elected. After winning the election, President Barack Obama stated that closing Guantanamo Bay was a top priority for his administration.3
Obviously, this initiative will please many and upset others. However, should the U.S. close Guantanamo Bay? If so, what will the U.S. do with the remaining detainees? What are the alternatives to detention at Guantanamo Bay? These critical questions require a thorough analysis.
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