Keep Guantanamo open

President-elect Barack Obama has voiced his intent to immediately close Guantanamo Bay prison under the premise of restoring international cooperation âÄî a major theme of his campaign. But should abstract international agreements like the Geneva Conventions be used to protect âÄúcivilianâÄù terrorists and suspects simply because they do not wear the badge of a recognized national military? The answer is no and the facility at Guantanamo ought to remain open under increased observation to fulfill its purpose to the U.S. military and the American people. For years, skeptics have referred to civil rights and international criticism as the catalyst for closing the doors of the prison, located in Cuba. This viewpoint ignores the entire intent of stationing such a facility outside of U.S. soil: To avoid the messy lack of distinction between civilians and military operatives in a constant conflict like the war on terror. Although the Taliban have no military recognition on the battlefield, their intent is nothing but militant and their battlefield is the world over. Twenty-first century threats to the national security of the United States became clear on Sept. 11, 2001, and those threats still exist today. It is essential that the military have the power to hold those foreign enemies that do not wear a uniform but still pose a threat. Guantanamo has admittedly had its fair share of bad public relations. Accordingly, officials must focus on strict guidelines and open policies that they have been employing. Congressional members, governors and even foreign leaders have been invited to tour Guantanamo in order to defuse rumors and false allegations that have created higher tension levels between the United States and other nations. This openness to the world is one reason why it is imperative ObamaâÄôs national security team keep the doors of Guantanamo open. President George W. Bush has made it a priority to return prisoners to their home countries after it has been determined they are not a threat, bringing the current number of detainees to its lowest level ever âÄî only a few hundred. But some are still calling for moving the process onto American soil, which would be a terrible mistake. Dr. James Carafano , former professor at the U.S. Military Academy and a defense expert at the Heritage Foundation, agrees that Guantanamo is fulfilling all of the legal obligations that a U.S. detention center would require anyway, including right to a lawyer and habeas corpus, release of innocent prisoners and the process of collecting intelligence. So the argument that a U.S. version of Guantanamo would make more procedural sense is questionable. Critics will not stop with Guantanamo, and it is naïve to believe that our image abroad will change overnight by closing it. Obama should make the decision through a security lens, since protecting the American people will be his absolute priority upon taking office. Under a security premise, Guantanamo has followed all necessary U.S. laws and regulations, and the resources necessary to relocate its processes outweigh the benefits of shutting it down. The security risks of potentially having to release any dangerous combatants in the closing of Guantanamo are too great. Even Bush and John McCain have called for the closing âÄî but also logically concluded it cannot be done until the fate of suspected terrorists is certain. Andy Post welcomes comments at [email protected]