On January 22, 2009, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaA simple fix can bring revolutionary change to health spending US and UK see eye to eye on ending illegal wildlife trade Top nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report MORE issued an Executive Order (EO) mandating the closure of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility (Guantánamo) within one year. About two-thirds of the nearly 800 detainees held at Guantánamo have either been repatriated to their home country or released to a third-party country; none have been released outright. The EO presumes that closure of the facility will “further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.” There is ample evidence to contradict such a presumption.

The inmates currently housed at Guantánamo are not mere criminals –they are hardened Islamist terrorists who believe they have a religious duty to kill Americans and destroy the United States, and will sacrifice even their own lives to accomplish this objective. Of the nearly 500 detainees who have been moved from Guantánamo, at least 61 have returned to terrorism according to official Department of Defense reports. …

In light of the nature of the current Guantánamo detainees and the demonstrated unreliability of foreign custody over similarly dangerous individuals, the best way to keep America safe is to keep the detention/interrogation facility at Guantánamo open and operational. The other alternatives increase the risk to the American public…. The transfer of these detainees into foreign custody creates the risk that they will return to terrorism and plan or carry out attacks either abroad against American interests or here inside the United States….

Transferring detainees to facilities inside the United States would also pose a direct threat to the safety of the American public. Any facility holding al-Qaeda detainees would immediately become a terrorist target…. Indeed, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility was chosen because it served as the safest location at which to house the detainees. The facility is secure from enemy attack and provides the least risk to American citizens in that it keeps the detainees and those who would try to free them far away from major populated areas….

There are significant issues of national security that must be addressed before Guantánamo is closed and detainees transferred into the United States. Until these risks are adequately addressed and security assured, no detainee should be removed from Guantánamo. While proponents of closure may perceive a public relations benefit to closing this facility, the preservation of public safety and national security must remain paramount in determining U.S. policy on this critical matter.

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