(Update: Shortly before 11:30 a.m. EST, President Barack Obama signed executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, review military trials of suspects and ban the harshest interrogation methods. The administration already has suspended trials for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.)
(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama on Thursday is expected to issue an executive order that would close the Guantanamo Bay detention center with one year.
He campaigned on the promise to do so, something that cheered those who say the prison at the U.S. Naval base violates the human rights of America's terrorist enemies.
The Obama administration already has suspended trials for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.
According to the Associated Press, a draft of the executive order to close Gitmo reads as follows:
"In view of the significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo and closure of the facility would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice."
Where will we put them?
Criticism of Obama’s executive order began even before he signed it.
On Wednesday, House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said important questions must be answered before the facility can be closed.
“The key question is where do you put these terrorists? Do you bring them inside our borders? Do you release them back into the battlefield? Is it really necessary to suspend the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the avowed mastermind of the September 11 plot, even though he has objected to the delay?
“If there is a better solution, we’re open to hearing it,” Boehner continued. “But most communities around America don’t want dangerous terrorists imported into their neighborhoods, and I can’t blame them.”
Democrat says he’d take the terrorists
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a longtime critic of the Iraq war, says he'd be willing to house the enemy combatants in his congressional district. "Sure, I'd take 'em," Murtha told a reporter. "They're no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo." But Murtha also noted that his district only has a minimum security prison.
Nevertheless, Mutha said there’s “no reason not to put them (detainees) in prisons in the United States” where they could be handled the way any other prisoners are handled.
Move America Forward, a group that supports U.S. troops, says Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center is “dangerous and irresponsible.”
“Obama swore to protect our Constitution, which means his top responsibility is to protect the American people. It is shocking that one of his first actions would be to close a prison that keeps Americans safe from admitted terrorists,” said Move America Forward Chairman Melanie Morgan.
See for yourself
As for complaints about human rights violations, Morgan noted that not one American serviceman or woman has been charged with crimes at Guantanamo Bay, and as the Abu Ghraib scandal proves, “We know that the military does police its own,” she said.
Morgan urged Obama to “stand up to the America-haters and his friends on the left and make the tough decision to keep Gitmo open.”
Representatives from Morgan’s group just returned from a visit to Guantanamo Bay, where they saw firsthand the prison where the admitted mastermind of 9/11 is held. Morgan said the delegation found no evidence of prisoner abuse or mistreatment.
“I looked into the eyes of the terrorists inside the prisons and watched as one made threatening, throat-cutting gestures,” Morgan said. “We know that at least 10 percent of released Gitmo inmates return to terrorism. Does Mr. Obama want to endanger our troops fighting radical jihadists just to pacify his European buddies and radicals who don’t care about the safety of our troops?”
The Associated Press recently reported that detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay are “increasingly returning to the fight against the United States and its allies.” The report says 61 terrorist detainees released have rejoined the fight.
Morgan urged Obama to either go to Gitmo himself or send a top aide to visit the detention center before making a “rash decision” to close the prison.
“Unless he does this, Obama will be making an uninformed decision that will taint his first days and hurt America as she defends herself from radical Muslim jihadists,” Morgan said.
(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)