Lewis W. Diuguid

Obama’s to-do list is right to include closing Guantanamo Bay prison

Updated: 2013-05-01T23:59:43Z

By Lewis W. Diuguid

The Kansas City Star

The cost in political capital was way too high for President Barack Obama to keep his 2008 campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay’s detention center and transfer or release the detainees in the war on terror.

But Obama can afford to blow a wad of political capital now that the federal stimulus money appears to have worked and the economy looks to be on the mend, the the Affordable Care Act has been passed and has withstood a Supreme Court challenge, and the president is securely in his second term. Obama announced Tuesday that he will redouble efforts -- as the cable guy would say in his routine -- to “get ’er done.”

The president said Guantanamo no longer is needed to keep America safe, and it hurts the U.S. standing internationally to hold people -- some labeled enemy combatants -- without charges or trial.

Closing Guantanamo is long overdue. President George W. Bush opened the U.S. Navy base in Cuba after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. About 800 prisoners have been held at one time at the facility, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Many have been released to other countries. There are 166 detainees there today -- about 100 staging hunger strikes.

Transferring or repatriating the persons held at Guantanamo will resurrect widespread push-back from Democrats and Republicans. No one wants them in their state, even Kansas, where the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth would seem ideal for continuing to detain some of the prisoners.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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