Gitmo detainees need a couch to crash on

Mark Boyer

President-elect Obama's promise to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay isn't getting any easier. During the presidential campaign, Obama made it clear that he wants Gitmo shuttered, and he's got a willing partner in Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. However, about 250 prisoners are still in custody, and about 60 of them have been cleared for release but are unable to repatriate for fear of torture or execution. The Bush State Department has been working the phones, pleading with "dozens" of countries to take some of the detainees off our hands. So far, only Portugal, which has called for a common EU position on the matter, has agreed to take any of the prisoners, while Germany has said it wants to hold talks with the Obama Administration. The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Denmark have rejected the proposal, and even Poland (our greatest ally!) has been reluctant to help out. Britain and Australia are currently mulling the offer, but after developments this week, the chance that either nation will cooperate is looking increasingly unlikely. Australia, which has already rejected the offer once, has been approached by the Bush administration again. Meanwhile, a controversial article appearing in the Times of London yesterday reported that Britain was preparing to take Gitmo prisoners. The story caused a stir among the conservative Tory party, and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was forced to repudiate the report. As the Times article notes, trying the detainees on US soil presents a dilemma to Obama, beucase many of them have been tortured already. If the issue isn't resolved in the next three weeks, finding refuge for those detainees and shutting Guantánamo Bay down will be an early test of Obama's diplomatic charm.

Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.