The other night on John Oliver’s HBO program, I saw a funny montage of President Obama repeatedly stating his intention to close Guantanamo. In the beginning, the youthful president was unequivocal. But with each successive news clip—and as his hair became increasingly grayer—Mr. Obama became less emphatic. He was practically conciliatory in his last public statement about closing the offshore prison. As I said, it was supposed to be funny. But the reality of the situation is not a laughing matter.
Guantánamo represents a monumental failure in US policy and diplomacy since 9/11. It defies everything the US stands for. As I travel around the world, people everywhere want to know why we perpetuate such an affront to democracy and the justice system that we idealize to the rest of the world, a system supposedly based on “innocent until proven guilty.”
Why our elected officials are so opposed to transferring prisoners to sites in the continental United States may seem easy to understand. However, it begs the question: why should we subject Cuba or any other country to doing what we ourselves dare not do? This is not just seen as a double standard; it is viewed as outright cowardice.