Here’s Why Closing Guantanamo Just Got More Complicated

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On January 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the eventual closure of Guantanamo Bay. Closing Guantanamo means a number of  things have to be sorted out. For a time, the main concern was dealing with those prisoners still in Gitmo and where they would be transferred or released to after the closure. Congress expressed concern about prisoners transferred to facilities on domestic soil, particularly worried that they might later be released from imprisonment and would then be free on American soil.

This initial concern was dismissed by a report on immigration laws that made it clear that this was unlikely to be a concern. Since then, though, the controversial detention camp has become the center of a storm of controversy and complex legal items, from Bowe Bergdahl to hunger strike footage. On top of that, a Gallup poll of public opinion shows that most Americans aren’t behind closing Guantanamo. Of those who responded, 29 percent said they believed the U.S. should shut it down, while 66 percent said they believed it should not be shut down.

A majority was against the closure across parties, though Republicans recorded the greatest number in disagreement, with 84 percent saying the prison should not be closed, compared to 13 percent saying it should. Comparatively, 64 percent of independents were against closure, as was 54 percent of Democrats.

Recently, though, the prison’s closure has been the least of the matters demanding attention at Guantanamo. In May, there were reports covering a prison hunger strike and videos of the forced feeding of one prisoner in particular, Abi Wa’El “Jihad” Dhiab, who had petitioned for an injunction on forced feedings and cell extractions. Dhiab’s lawyer received permission from a judge to obtain the videos, and the eventual trial with likely be one with continued political significance.

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