North America

Obama’s bid to close Guantanamo

Hubert Cruz

On Tuesday (23 February), President Obama announced a plan to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, and urged Congress to support his proposal. Guantanamo was opened by the Bush administration in 2002 to detain foreign terror suspects, and has held 780 suspected militants to date. The facility has been criticised for violating the rights of detainees since most of them have been held without charges, and there were also reports of torture and abuse in the compound.

President Obama assumed office in 2009 with a major pledge to close Guantanamo. However, he has only made incremental progress since then by relocating prisoners that were considered to be minimal security risks overseas. Currently there are still 91 prisoners in Guantanamo. Under the plan presented to Congress, 35 of them would be transferred to other countries, while the remaining would be held in facilities on US soil with some potentially facing trial.

The President appealed to the Republican-controlled Congress by citing up to $180m in military expenditure could be saved if Guantanamo is closed. He also argues keeping Guantanamo open to be inconsistent with US values, and hurts the country’s reputation and partnerships in the world. Nevertheless, prominent Republicans in Congress have already raised objections to hosting terror suspects on the US mainland. The President has not stated whether he would unilaterally pursue executive action if Congress blocks his plan.

Do you think the US government should close Guantanamo? Is President Obama’s plan feasible? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. Below are a few pieces of articles for you to find out more about the issue:

The New York Times – Obama Sends Plan to Close Guantánamo to Congress

The Guardian – ‘No one but himself to blame’: how Obama's Guantánamo plans fell through

Vox – The fatal flaw in Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay

Canada's Election Result

This week saw Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party swoop to power in the Canadian elections. The Liberals started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority. Addressing his cheering supporters Mr Trudeau said 'We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less.' There has been much speculation as to the policy changes Mr Trudeau will implement, and Canada has already withdrawn from the war coalition against ISIS.

Will Trudeau live up to Canadian expectations, and how will his policies alter Canada's relationship with the US and position on the world stage? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. The contributors best insights will be invited to explore their views further for our journal Sir!