Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing regarding the status of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, reviewing its nearly two decade history and the current plans for the site. Since the Biden Administration’s promise almost a year ago to close down the prison, only one inmate (whose release was negotiated and approved while Obama was still in office) has been repatriated and only five others approved for release (though not yet moved). None of those prisoners were ever charged with a crime. The President declined to even send a witness to last month’s hearing to testify on his plans to shutter the facility or justify keeping it open. Now there are plans to build a new courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, which is projected to cost at least $4 million and signals more delays in closing the prison. As it has with so many issues, the Biden Administration has so far been long on talk and short on deeds when it comes to closing the blight on the American justice system that is Gitmo.
“I was given 96 hours to open it,” said Michael Lehnert, retired U.S. general and first commandant of Guantanamo Bay detention camp. “Ninety-six days to close it seems reasonable.”
The Libertarian Party has called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since the site’s opening in January 2002. Still today dozens of men remain incarcerated at Gitmo, with next to no communication with the outside world. Despite the government’s continued insistence that those imprisoned there are dangerous terrorists, most have never been charged with a single crime. What little information that comes from the black hole at Guantánamo includes highly credible reports of torture.
Gitmo represents some of the worst sorts of abuse that governments are capable of, all carried out in our name.
Our country’s long-held notions of justice require that every person suspected of a crime, no matter how heinous, be afforded due process of law. Our party’s founding principles compel us to speak out about injustice, wherever it is happening.
After withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in 2021, President Biden claimed to have ended our government’s “forever war.” Yet the Center for Constitutional Rights points out, “the forever war will persist as long as its primary prison camp and torture chamber remains open. It is long past time to end indefinite detention without charge and close Guantánamo.”
Twenty years and four presidential administrations on, the Libertarian Party again demands that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be shut down immediately and calls upon the government to prove its case against the detainees in a court of law — or release them.
Chair of the Libertarian National Committee