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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Five New Reasons (and One Old One) Why We Must Close Guantanamo Now

Splashed on the front page of USA Today this week were the surprising results of a poll finding that a wide majority of Americans now oppose the closing of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay. "By more than 2-1, those surveyed say Guantánamo shouldn't be closed. By more than 3-1, they oppose moving some of the accused terrorists housed there to prisons in their own states," USA Today reported. USA Today's poll results present a major political challenge to President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly vowed to close the detention camp by early next year, and who already faces a battle over Gitmo with Congress.

How could it be that after such an endlessly devastating era of high-profile lawlessness, torture, rigged trials, and prisoner deaths -- and years after Bush officials themselves acknowledged the need to shutter the prison camp -- a majority of Americans want to keep it open? It is a testament to the ageless power of political fearmongering. In the months since Obama vowed to close Guantánamo in an executive order that was met with relief and praise by human rights advocates worldwide, the debate over how and when to do so has been hijacked and utterly skewed.


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