Closing Down Guantanamo

I have always limited posting here to government contracting issues. I am about to violate that self-imposed limitation, doing it on a subject about which I am definitely not an expert. That is probably dangerous thing to do in the blogosphere, but taking a risk now and then keeps life interesting. These ruminations are prompted by an article in Vox.com about the legality of the Berghdahl prisoner swap, today’s satire from Borowitz, and my pondering whether there was any possible way President Obama could complete his 2008 pledge to shut down Guantanamo. And now, in a spasm of synchronicity, President Obama has launched today another effort to close Guantanamo; however, the President’s proposal would require congressional approval and we know how likely that is to happen in an election year. I’m thinking about a way to close Guantanamo down without congressional approval. So here goes, my flagrantly Machiavellian, blatantly textualist way to get this done.
I gathered from the Vox article that there are essentially two limitations on prisoner release, a 30-day notification to Congress and a limitation on using any funds to release prisoners without the notice (See section 1035 of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act; similar provisions show up in earlier years’ legislation). However, a close reading of this provision reveals (1) that the provision only requires a notification of a proposed release pursuant to that provision and (2) that the detainee releases authorized by that provision {which also require extensive determinations by the Secretary of Defense} are only for those involving transfers to “the individual’s country of origin, or any other foreign country.”
So what if the transfer is not to any foreign country? What if the transfer is to an international organization such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees? The international organization could take custody of the detainees at Guantanamo (or at the border of the Naval Base and Cuba), thus requiring no expenditure of appropriated funds. And I would say, make the transfer involve every detainee still in custody. If any of them represent a threat, so be it. Congress has prevented any reasonable resolution of the detainees’ status and release of even dangerous detainees is probably less of a threat to national security than the continued existence of the detention facility itself. An international organization taking custody of the detainees could make whatever provisions for the relocation of the detainees it saw appropriate. This would naturally require overruling screams from the Justice and Defense Departments and probably most of the intelligence community. Nevertheless, it would accomplish the goal. Deed done; detention facility shut down.
Of course, I would recommend that all this take place between November 9, 2016, and January 19, 2017, for obvious reasons.
So there you are. My “Modest Proposal.” Let the trolling begin.

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