How the US Can Close Guantanamo Prison
Richard Stallman, 2023-02-22

The US needs to close the Guantanamo prison, to save the millions that it costs, to eliminate a disgrace that inspires hatred, and to end the injustice that began with torture and imprisonment without trial. Biden says he wants to close the Guantanamo prison, as Obama did, but the constraints make it very difficult and he has not explained how he plans to reach that goal.

Biden seeks opportunities to release individual prisoners to some other country, but at this rate he will not release 40 prisoners even in 8 years. Meanwhile, the hardest problem is what to do with the prisoners that the US government refuses to release -- those facing so-called "military tribunals" (instead of trials), and those that the US intends to hold prisoner for life without trial. At the practical level, where could the US possibly send or put them? A law prohibits bringing them into the US, either for prison or for trial.

I have a proposal: to convert the prison into Guantanamo town, and release all the remaining prisoners into that town.

I envision a real change, not a phony renaming. The prisoners should be free within the town, free to invite their families to join them there, and free to leave for whatever countries will let them in.

The US should give each former prisoner enough money to live comfortably for the rest of per life, as compensation for imprisonment without trial plus in some cases torture. With this compensation, prisoners could pay for the necessities of life, consumer products, travel, and medical care, as well as building a permanent house to replace whatever temporary expedient the government initially provides. An ex-prisoner who wishes company sometimes, or to run a B&B, could build a house with extra rooms.

Each prisoner should be allowed to travel to any country that will admit per, either temporarily or permanently. That will not include the US -- the US will not admit these prisoners. There being no commercial flights to Guantanamo Naval Station, the US government will have to facilitate these trips.

While a prisoner lives in Guantanamo Town, per immediate family should be allowed to visit, even stay there, if perse invites them.

US citizens, and others with a suitable visa, should be allowed to visit Guantanamo Town also, and meet freely with ex-prisoners who want to meet with them. This includes journalists.

Does this sound like lavish luxury? It certainly will not be poverty -- but they deserve this compensation for the injustice of Guantanamo. Considering that running the prison now costs some 540 million dollars per year, Guantanamo Town ought to save the US government a bundle. It will also eliminate an important factor that inspires Islamist terrorism.

The town will need cops and a legal system. Crimes, whether against other individuals or against the US, will be punished, but only after real trials held by real US courts. convened virtually if necessary (but not using Zoom!). The US government should monitor ex-prisoners' expendatures and gifts of money, and their communications too, in case someone wishes to support terrorism or jihad.


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