On January 11, 2011, the New America Foundation hosted a retrospective discussion on the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Journalist Andy Worthington, Colonel Morris Davis, Thomas Wilner, and Benjamin Wittes all participated. Patrick Doherty, senior advisor to New America’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative and Director of the organization’s Smart Strategy Initiative, moderated the event. Statements and discussion focused on a variety of issues including the ongoing controversy as well as the prison’s future, detention and the application of law, and the utility of keeping the facility open.
Each participant shared their experiences and affiliation with Guantanamo Bay: Worthington offered his perspective as a freelance author whose research stands as some of the most complete to day; Colonel Morris offered details regarding his time spent prosecuting “enemy combatants” held in Cuba; Wittes spoke about the continued utility and necessity of Guantanamo, since the United States will need a detention facility for the foreseeable future; and Wilner expressed his dissatisfaction with the process and the moral shortcomings of Guantanamo and the American response.
The discussion confirmed the controversy will endure and that there is no impulse for moving forward, two years after President Obama signed the order to close the prison. Compelling arguments were made by all participants but there remained reservations about the facility’s future purpose. One thing is certain: Guantanamo still has a future, and the controversy will last until politicians resolve the debate.