Holder: We’re Still Trying To Close Gitmo

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


The Obama administration is still committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Attorney General Eric Holder told the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee on Tuesday:

“We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and then – and after that election, we will try to close it as well,” Holder said. “Some people have made this a political issue without looking at, I think, the real benefits that would flow from the closure of the facility.”

This seems optimistic on Holder’s part, and not just because it assumes Barack Obama will be reelected. He’s certainly right that partisan politics is a big reason the facility remains open.

Although there was once bipartisan agreement between 2008 candidates Barack Obama and John McCain on closing Gitmo, opposition to moving the detainees to American soil turned out to be even more bipartisan. Shortly after Obama’s election Democrats voted to deny the administration funds for closing the facility, and since then Congress has tried to impose more restrictions on the administration’s abilities to transfer detainees out of the facility, whether to third countries or to federal courts for trial. Civil liberties groups also balked at the administration’s decision to retain and therefore ratify the Bush-era policy of indefinite detention, and panned the administration’s plan to move the detainees to a federal prison in Illinois as “Gitmo North.”

Holder also committed to holding a military commissions trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, after the same bipartisan opposition scuttled the administration’s plan to try them in federal court. The Washington Times reported in early September that the officer overseeing the military commissions “is taking a go-slow approach that would bring the confessed Sept. 11 mastermind to trial months, or perhaps years, from now.” Even if, somehow, the administration found a way to transfer most of the rest of the 173 detainees left at the facility, including the 46 designated for indefinite detention without trial, the commission for the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators would probably still keep the facility open for the foreseeable future. And I don’t believe even the administration thinks that scenario is remotely likely.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest