A proposed new facility to house 16 high level Guantanamo detainees that will cost $69 million is designed to keep the prison open after President Barack Obama leaves office, Carlos Warner, Federal Public Defender, tells RT.
RT: We’re talking about a high level detainee complex being built with this massive investment. What exactly do they mean by high level detainees?
Carlos Warner: These are detainees that the CIA has determined should be classified as high value. It’s completely within their discretion. Publicly we know there are 16 of them. As I understand the bill, our country wants to spend at least $69 million to build a new facility for these 16 individuals, which is ridiculous.
RT: Why do they want to do that? Isn’t Guantanamo a stronghold in itself already?
CW: This is all about trying to keep Guantanamo open past President Barack Obama and the only reason why it will be open past the Obama administration is because of the military commissions: they’re floundering, they’re failing. It’s fake justice we have in Guantanamo and the military has reacted the reality that the military commissions will not end by 2017, by saying we need another $70 million to house 16 prisoners. So just do the math on that, it makes no sense.
RT: So Obama’s never going to be able to close it, is he?
CW: I think he is actually going to make strides to do it and we need to be unified to assist him. He’s definitely engaged the right people to close Guantanamo. But we have to realize that here in the United States, there are people who want to have Guantanamo open after he’s gone. So they can put whoever they may please in Guantanamo and that is something we will not stand for, that’s what’s behind this building.
RT: There you are representing these detainees, also the committee wants to prevent any transfer of those detainees to the US for trial or further detention – you are on to a lost cause now, aren’t you? It’s going to be impossible for you.
CW: No, I think the NDAA [Defense bill making it easier to close Guantanamo] this year will be changed. The question is how it will be changed. People believe the president should have no restrictions on where they transfer these individuals, be it to the United States, or to another country. I think the most important thing that has to happen in Guantanamo, is that the prison itself must be shuttered, and the military commissions must be closed. They are not bring justice to the 9/11 families. It’s a kangaroo court and many people have said that. The key is that we shouldn’t be putting another dime into Guantanamo, we should be focusing on relieving any transfer restrictions and allowing the president to transfer these individuals to either the United States for either detention or trial.
RT: The prison is notorious for indefinite detention and also the allegations of torture there. Do you think that with this further investment that will in fact encourage public opinion against the prison? Will it help your cause or do you think this development will actually go ahead?
CW: I think the president agrees with our position that Guantanamo must be closed. I think the American public generally, if you were to take a poll, I would state that 50 percent of them already think Guantanamo is closed. It certainly isn’t something that’s every day in the press.
But working with my clients for so many years in Guantanamo, I know that the number one problem we have is Guantanamo itself, and it must be closed. And if we can shutter the prison, including the high value detainee prisoners – all of it needs to be shuttered. I think that we’ll be able to get on the right step and these men can have real due process.