The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Closing Guantánamo: Is the U.S. Ready?

prison block According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the answer is yes - U.S. facilities are physically capable of receiving the current 166 detainees from Guantánamo. Yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced the release of GAO's newest report "Guantánamo Bay Detainees: Facilities and Factors for Consideration if Detainees Were Brought to the United States". President Obama ordered the closing of the detention facility in 2009, yet this closure has been repeatedly blocked in Congress, citing threats to national security as the cause. The report, which was commissioned by Senator Feinstein in 2008, "describes the (1) current Guantánamo Bay detention facilities and infrastructure, (2) DOD corrections facilities and factors to be considered if these facilities were used to hold the detainees, and (3) DOJ facilities holding individuals charged with or convicted of terrorism-related crimes, and factors to be considered if these facilities were used to hold the detainees." The "factors" alluded to in the previous sentence not only include legal and cost considerations, but also "(1) ensuring compliance with international law and U.S. laws and policies; (2) ensuring the continued safety and security of DOD personnel and the detainees, as well as the general public; (3) collecting intelligence information from the detainees; and (4) maintaining current missions and services provided by the corrections facilities and associated installations." GAO is very clear that the intention of the report is wholly descriptive, and no recommendations are made. However, commentary from Senator Feinstein's website demonstrates her belief that it provides the evidence necessary for Congress to move forward with the White House's agenda of closing the facility. "This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security", says Feinstein. The report discussed in this post is the unclassified version of the report. GAO disclosed that they also published a classified version in November 2012.