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Amnesty: Closing Guantanamo Isn’t Enough

Amnesty International, in a just-released proposal, wants to go further than just closing the facility.

By Spencer Ackerman

The international human-rights organization put out a four-stage plan for closing the door on the Era of Guantanamo for good. It’s more about investigating prior abuses than shutting Guantanamo down. Bizarrely, Amnesty doesn’t actually deal with any of the actual suggestions for how to close the facility – move the detainees to Ft. Leavenworth? A different federal prison? The group doesn’t say. What its proposal, emailed to reporters a couple minutes ago, actually concerns is empaneling an investigation into:

… abuses which may have been committed by U.S. officials or agents in connection with the U.S. response to the events of September 11, 2001, or in relation to alleged acts or threats against national security, and which at a minimum will investigate detentions, renditions and the alleged use of torture and other mistreatment of detainees.

The proposal is really a timeline for investigating abuse. Amnesty wants an inquiry wrapped up by July 2010, with an update provided to the public in the January 2010 State of the Union address. Says Amnesty U.S.A. executive director Larry Cox, “Closing Guantanamo, as President-elect Obama has pledged, is just the first step. For real change, the incoming administration and Congress must work together to fully expose the Bush administration policies as a step toward ensuring that the same abuses committed in the name of national security are not repeated.”

There is, of course, the difficult question of prosecutions. Amnesty says the transition team should consider a task force in the Attorney General’s office or a special prosecutor. If not, the investigating commission could give recommendations on how to proceed following its report.

Still, I’d sort of like to know when and how one of the most important human-rights groups on the planet thinks the actual facility ought to be closed, and the absence of that guidance is kind of conspicuous.