For years, people have been buying the excuse that Obama can’t close Gitmo because “Congress won’t let him”. I’ve been arguing that no, Obama could close Gitmo any time he liked if he really wanted to.
Sure, Congress can refuse to allow funds to be allocated for special shutdown procedures and ferrying people by aircraft. They can pass laws prohibiting relocation of detainees to the US. But the President of the USA is the head of the nation’s armed forces. If Obama really wants to, he can simply order that all the doors in Gitmo be unlocked and left open, and all the prisoners be left unshackled and allowed to leave. No additional funding would be required, and the camp would effectively be shut down. If General John Kelley were to refuse, Obama could simply sack him and promote another General to his job, and repeat the process until he found someone who would obey orders.
I’m sure that someone would provide the released individuals with transport away from Cuba. We could run a KickStarter for the clearly totally innocent ones, and I’m sure Saudi Arabia would pay for a few plane flights for any dodgy ones, if you catch my meaning.
Skeptical? Notice the wording when Republicans say that Obama can’t close Gitmo:
“The language is very clear that he can’t transfer the prisoners, and this is language that was put in the defense bill by Democrats when they ran Congress in the early part of the Obama administration.”
Sure, he can’t transfer the prisoners to detention in the USA. But he can order that they be released outright.
Anyway, apparently Obama’s now starting to consider this option. I just wish he had considered it at the start of his Presidency. Then again, that would require that he be the Obama we wanted to believe he was, rather than the centrist desperate to govern by consensus and get approval from Republicans that he turned out to be.
Obviously an uncontrolled release like this would be a mess, but it would probably be a lot less of a Daesh recruitment exercise than keeping innocent people locked up and tortured for another 5 or 10 years, right?