Kristin Kittell | Assistant Perspectives Editor
Much to the chagrin of the administration preceding him, President Obama closed the doors of the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba just over two years ago in favor of seeking civil trials for each of its detainees in American court systems.
This followed a lengthy crusade against the notoriously forceful treatment of prisoners in off-shore detention centers on the grounds it was not in keeping with American values and tarnished the United States international image. When the interrogation methods being used at Guantanamo Bay were brought to light, few could oppose a definitive ending.
Though some would have preferred the prison stay open because of a lingering 9/11 mindset, most opposition appeared once citizens realized the trials that would’ve occurred overseas would occur near home instead. Still,
Obama fought for civil trials for the prisoners. He repeatedly implied the American judicial system was and has always been the best means for bringing individuals to justice.
This extended to holding trials for alleged terrorists in places such as lower Manhattan, despite the pleas of the city’s mayor and citizens. After rallying against Guantanamo and all that it stands for prior to and following his election, President Obama has chosen to reopen Guantanamo Bay and to resume the military trials he argued against, with several tweaks to the previous system of trial.
In all of the rage and rhetoric thrown about three years ago in discussions of Gitmo, our president failed to seek congressional support of his promise to close it permanently. The only order pertaining to the prison was purely Executive, leaving President Obama room to reverse it at his discretion.
While we were under the impression Gitmo would never again be used in the trials of alleged terrorists, this decision was never concrete, as demonstrated by Obama’s once again purely executive decision to reopen it.
Albeit, congressional support for nearly anything is hard to come by with the government behaving the way it is now, but Obama never sought to negotiate any sort of new policy concerning the treatment of prisoners. Instead, he acted alone, making one decision he felt would be best for the American public and then reversing it when he came to the conclusion it was wrong.
This is not the way our government should be conducted. No one person should be left to make a decision so vitally important to both national security and our international reputation. When our leader makes a promise to us, we should be able to trust him to follow through, rather than signing something to appease the voters while failing to solidify it before the rest of our elected officials.
If the members of the American judicial system are the best qualified decision makers in the world, I’m sure the American government is also capable of coming to a consensus over matters of national security. TAS