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Letter: Why Gitmo may be here to stay

May 04, 2013
  • The sun rises over the Guantanamo detention facility at dawn, where detainees are waging a hunger strike.
The sun rises over the Guantanamo detention facility at dawn, where detainees… (Brennan Linsley / Associated…)

Re "Obama renews call to close prison," May 1

The slogan "Close Guantanamo" obscures as much as it illuminates. To be sure, the prison there must close, for as President Obama said this week, it is an affront to American values, our global standing and U.S. counter-terrorism interests. But the slogan disguises the fact that, while more than two-thirds of the 166 detainees will eventually be released (or die hunger striking), the United States will hold indefinitely up to 50 detainees whom the executive branch has determined are too dangerous to release but too difficult to prosecute.

If we are going to talk about values and rule of law, the core issue is not geography. In a speech at the National Archives four years ago, Obama made clear his position: "I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people." The president tried to impose some rules on this lawless situation in 2011, but the administration has yet to implement his order of periodic review for detainees.

Let's not kid ourselves: We can substantially reduce the population of detainees if the administration dedicates itself to the necessary diplomacy and politics. But unless we are prepared to acknowledge and confront the real conflict between our core values prohibiting detention without trial and our legitimate fear of terrorism, a Guantanamo, in some form, in some place, will exist for many years to come.

David Kaye

Los Angeles

The writer is a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law and a former State Department lawyer.

Though it is true that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would be a positive step for fiscal, political and legal reasons, it's also true that many of the detainees there are unrepentant terrorists. They are not citizens of this country, and they are not common criminals. They are driven by an ideology of hatred for America and our values.

The detainees are prisoners of war and should not be released until the war is over — meaning probably never.

Paul Moser III

Studio City

As an American and a Jew, I am horrified that we are still holding men at Guantanamo Bay. It reminds me of the Germans holding Jews in concentration camps.

Close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and show America and God that we are better and more compassionate as a people. Release the detainees or find a place for them in the United States and treat them like human beings.

Lolly Hellman

Los Angeles

As a World War II veteran who was stationed in Guantanamo, I strongly oppose closing the prison there. Only military fighters serving in the uniform of their country have rights; terrorists and spies have none under the Geneva Conventions.

With Islamic extremists killing even fellow Muslims, we should be more concerned with eliminating this cancer than about the detainees' civil rights.

The prison at Guantanamo must stay open. Protecting Americans must be the president's first concern.

Judd C. Kramer

Woodland Hills


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