Powell: Close Guantanamo Now

Atlantic Monthly‘s James Bennet reports that former Secretary of State Colin Powell called yesterday for the closing of Gitmo.

“Guantanamo ought to be closed immediately,” Powell said. He said the value of holding prisoners there was unclear, but the price we were paying around the world for doing so was obvious. He said we should not release the prisoners and dismissed the objection there was no other alternative. “We have ways of dealing with this population” that do not require Gitmo, he said.

Indeed. I’ve been saying this for at least two years now.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    I’m unconvinced.

    Someone else around these parts quoted Hitch the other day, who remarked that the last time that anyone outside of the United States actually liked the United States was when they were crying, hurting, and counting their dead on 9/11.

    So, I’m unclear on what their liking us, buys us.

  2. Herb says:

    I just can’t see why GITMO disturbs anyone. We have a bunch of killers housed there and that’s exactly where they belong. If the President, without the whining and crying of the leftest Anti Americans, money grubbing lawyers, and European cry baby’s had not stuck their big noses in to our business, then GITMO would most likely be closed by now and the terrorist housed there would have been in prison. It seems to me that there is no difference between GITMO and a Max security prison with a full solitary confinement section for those GITMO prisoners.

    Most all this hell a balou is just more Hate Bush rhetoric espoused by those who are still bent out of shape from 2000 and 2004.

    Just look at the comments right here on OTB. The “Close Gitmo” crud is the same as the “Cut and Run” crowd with a few exceptions.

    And quite frankly JJ, I am shocked that you, of all persons, are calling for GITMO to close knowing full well that those who are there are hell bent on the destruction of you, me, and all America.

    Just who cares if we are liked by others who also want to see this country fail. We might ask them, just who would come to their aid if they were in serious trouble or suffered a terrible disaster. It,s like what Bithead inferred, they have always loved our money, but curse us behind our backs. That will never change.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Bithead and Herb: The problems with Gitmo are manifold. First, the ones captured in Aghanistan should simply have been housed there. Transporting them to U.S. territory creates all manner of legal problems. Second, there does not seem to be a process in place to determine that those imprisoned at Gitmo are who we say they are.

    I don’t have any qualms about detaining terrorists indefinitely; let’s just do it according to the rules of war.

  4. jim says:

    â??We have waysâ?? really? Do you think anything short of immediate release will satisfy the critics in the EU? Seriously, Iâ??m asking a real question not trying for the smart ass one this time.

  5. SgtFluffy says:

    James I found this quote from you odd

    I donâ??t have any qualms about detaining terrorists indefinitely; letâ??s just do it according to the rules of war.

    Aren’t these the same people who do not follow the rules of war also? They are not a standing Army and rules do not apply to them. If they were housed in Afghanistan, wouldn’t you think that other Terrorists would have it as “Free these Guys” on their to do list every day?

  6. While the merits of closing Gitmo are debatable, the reasons Powell and others give hold absolutely no water. If we close Gitmo, do we HONESTLY believe the world’s opinion is going to change? As someone who has supposedly been all over the world, Powell should know better. But in case he doesn’t, the answer is “No.”

    They’ll just move on to complain about some other evil we’re allegedly perpetuating – like, you know, the next prison we put these people in.

    When people say they want Guantanamo closed, they’re saying they want people released. What purpose would there be in spending millions to close the place and simply move these prisoners to another lock up?

    The problem with Guantanamo is not that it exists. It’s that it is so secretive, and that some of the practices used there have been highly questionable at best – illegal and cruel at worst. If there were a little more openness, and if the prisoners held there were given better access to the legal process, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation – at least not as bad. Unfortunately, the damage the administration has done by running it this way is irreversible.

    So, closing it will accomplish nothing. May as well keep it open.

  7. Arenâ??t these the same people who do not follow the rules of war also?

    SgtFluffy: I think that might be James’s point (although I will not presume to speak for you James.) We don’t know anything about most of these people, so we don’t know if that’s why they’re there.

  8. davod says:

    The old story. If everyone doesn’t know the total hisory of everyone then it must be wrong. I would suggest that there are a lot of people in Congress and the administration who do know the background of the inmates and that is why theyy are still there.

    Powell is just pandering. He has always been a middle of the roader. He folded much earlier than this and is now trying to rehabilitate himself with those who write short term history.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Leave military problems to the military. To suggest we, in any way have to prove these people are who we say they are simply do not understand power. This country does not make a habit of kidnapping people. They are secure at Gitmo, al-Qaeda cannot rescue them there, and they would probably try anywhere else. Some of you people need to read the Consititution. What part of Commander in Chief is difficult to understand?

  10. Fersboo says:

    Wow, Powell said we should close Gitmo so the world will love us again! Consider me unimpressed as another media darling that is thrust upon the Right acts like a nancy-boy.

  11. Mark says:

    But assuming we close Gitmo, we’ll just put the prisoners somewhere else – and it will become the new Gitmo, won’t it?

    Also, giving these guys back to their home countries aon’t work because haven’t they said they won’t accept them anyway?

  12. Bithead says:

    Bithead and Herb: The problems with Gitmo are manifold. First, the ones captured in Aghanistan should simply have been housed there. Transporting them to U.S. territory creates all manner of legal problems. Second, there does not seem to be a process in place to determine that those imprisoned at Gitmo are who we say they are.

    Possibly. But even assuming such charges are true, those levels of problems don’t even approach the level of problem of maintaining a prison of high security inside Afghanistan. Given all offers a number of advantages in this since the likelihood of attack on that prison is as close to nil has no matter.

  13. Herb says:

    As far as Powell is concerned, I remember that it was he, who did not want us to go into the Gulf War in 1991. He made it very plain that he was against the Gulf war. I also think that it was Powell and his dovish thoughts and attitude that convinced Bush 41 to end the war, prematurely, in such a short time

    If Bush 41 had done the job right, then, we would be long gone from Iraq by this time.

    P.S. Powell gao sick a a big Democrat doings yesterday or the day before. That tells you something about Powell and his politics.

  14. Anderson says:

    Interesting to see what somebody who, ah, knows what he’s talking about, happens to think: Sir Richard Dearlove, recent head of MI6, as related by James Fallows:

    the point he stressed time and again, even in a bonus comment after the official program session had ended â?? the Western world, notably the United States, was doomed unless it reclaimed â??the moral high ground.â?? By the end of the Cold War, he said, there was no dispute world wide about which side held the moral high ground. As a professional spy master, he said that reality made it so much easier for him to recruit operatives â?? they would volunteer to come to him, because they believed in the cause. Therefore, as a matter of pure strategic necessity, the United States needed to behave according to its best traditions, not the exigencies of an open-ended wartime emergency. (Iâ??m paraphrasing a little, but not taking too many liberties.)

    So much for the “waah, the terrorists are evil so we have to be evil too” refrain only too common in OTB comment threads (and not just there, alas).

    Dearlove incidentally “suggested that just about everything in the American approach to the war on Islamic terrorism had been ill-conceived,” a point of view held across the board by conservative, moderate, and liberal foreign-policy experts in Foreign Policy‘s recent survey, about which more here.

    The majority of people in Islamic nations aren’t terrorists, aren’t even fanatically religious, and would doubtless like to see some American values in their own repressive, impoverished societies … at least, if “American values” meant something nowadays other than “invading countries under false pretenses, abusing their residents at whim, and detaining whomever we want however long we want without due process of law.”

    But then, if you’re the kind of person who has to have the value of “the moral high ground” explained to you, then all the above is wasted typing.

    Good post, JJ.

  15. What part of Commander in Chief is difficult to understand?

    Well, apparently, I missed the part giving him unlimited power. In any case, I don’t believe we should release these people, and that was exactly my point. However, I do believe we should give them due process. If only to shut the left up, and mostly because I believe it’s the American thing to do.

  16. Zenophobe says:

    …another media darling that is thrust upon the Right acts like a nancy-boy.

    Hmmmm, so human rights are nancy-boy concerns, while torture, rendition, and no-trial, no-end-in-sight imprisonment are like what? Butch, skinhead values? Real men love sadism?
    America as some 3rd Reich spin-off?

    This sick crew, including the macho-post writer above, are such prime examples of chicken-hawks: grown men who are really little boys who who have never been in war or indeed in the military, who strut and posture like little Pattons given a keyboard and anonymity. But, unlike Patton, they have no code of conduct, just some weird FOX-news jingoism.

    Just call me Nancy-boy, but our actions at Gitmo and in Iraq have damaged America’s very soul, let alone our relationship with the rest of humanity.

    Time to smell the coffee… in reality, it is YOU who are actually empowering the terrorists.

  17. Fersboo says:

    Considering they are not protected by the rules of war, I am suprised it is an issue at all; the terrorists are damn lucky their worthless lives were not ended right there on the battlefield.
    Don’t waste too much time typing on calling me a chickenhawk Zeno, I spent the waning days of the Cold War on the Czech border prepared to insert myself between those fleeing the the commie wonderland and those tasked to shoot those who attempted to escape. You could say that I have an intimate, first-hand experience with the rules of war.

  18. Zenophobe says:


    I’m not so concerned about THEM, I’m concerned about US. As you claim to be an anti-Communist fighter, I’m sure your sense of righteousness vis-a-vis the Reds was based on the knowledge that we weren’t like THEM, that we were better, much better.

    These current extremist counter-terror measures are brutalizing our troops in the field and demoralizing the population here at home, leading to the question: exactly how are we better than them? We don’t lop off heads, just drop cluster bombs indiscriminately? A Gitmo here, an Abu Ghraib there?

    And please please don’t even bother to tell me we take prisoners and don’t kill them on the field of battle. C.f., Falluja, Haditha, etc. Gitmo IS terrorism. We’re trying to TERRORIZE the world in self-protection. That’s the only reason these fellows at Gitmo are kept alive to the point of being forced fed if they try to starve themselves to death. However, all these efforts just seem to swell the ranks of terrorists and inflame world opinion against us.

    I see nothing but flawed logic in such policies. And a once-great nation being led by inferior intellects.

    Enjoy discussing whatever topic you wish amongst yourselves; you’ve turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the rest of the world and are talking to yourself.

    The whole world is watching what’s happening and not listening to your empty rhetoric.

  19. Herb says:

    Zenophobe must have Zeno Pads stuck to his head. Here is another example of those who fail to have the necessary grey matter to understand that we are dealing with those who would not give a second thought to slowly cut his head from the rest of his miserable body.

    And, talking about smelling coffee, he has his nose up the sore losing Dems. rear end so far that it would be a wonder if he had the ability to smell his own rear end let alone coffee.

    Archie had a name for people like him “Dingbat”

  20. Zenophobe says:

    I repeat that inferior intellects remark.

    Right-wingnuts seem to enjoy name calling as opposed to logical argument, so here you go, Foosball. We’re back in 4th grade.

    Go listen to some more Rush Limbaugh, drop a Viagra or two and continue to pleasure yourself, and imagine we’re winning the war on terror in the inept manner the Admin has chosen. It’s a real conservative wet-dream.


  21. Fersboo says:

    Zeno, your reading comprehension skills need some work; I wasn’t the one whom left the prior comment, that would be Herb.

  22. Herb says:


    It appears that “Zeno Pad” don’t read to well or comprehend what he’s reading. That’s a Lefty for ya.

  23. Bithead says:

    Claiming the moral high ground, it doesn’t do you much good if you’re not alive to enjoy the position.

    That seems to be a rather basic idea….