March 21, 2013

Regarding the March 17 news article “Signs of growing frustrations at Guantanamo Bay”:

President Obama’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order required review of all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay and closure of the prison within a year. It was recognized that appropriate disposition of all detainees would further our national security interests. On Jan. 22, 2010, a review task force approved the transfer of 82 detainees after finding no basis for prosecution. Those detainees continue to languish in their cells.

Conditions of detention are sometimes misunderstood, as evident in Charles Krauthammer’s March 15 op-ed column, “Codify the drone war,” in which he lamented: “George W. Bush was excoriated for waterboarding exactly three terrorists, all of whom are now enjoying an extensive retirement on a sunny Caribbean island (though strolls beyond Gitmo’s gates are prohibited).” As a former counsel to one of the detainees, I can tell you that such a statement suggests he has not been to the prison.

The Post more accurately described the hopeless and desperate plight of the detainees, noting that: “In January, the administration closed the State Department office charged with negotiating the transfer of detainees and accelerating the closure of the facility.”

Mr. Obama had it right in 2009. Detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay undermine our foreign-policy interests by serving as a recruiting tool for terrorists. Instead of shuttering the office charged with negotiating detainee transfer and closing the prison, the Obama administration should be redoubling its efforts to achieve those ends.

Garry R. Boehlert, Washington