The Corner

No Stop to Outsourcing Terrorist Detainees

Despite President Obama’s campaign promises to close the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, it appears that the Defense Department knows the installation isn’t going anywhere: They’re beginning a $40 million renovation. CNN’s Security Clearance explains:

The U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be getting an estimated $40 million communications upgrade, signaling it will continue its mission of holding top suspected terrorists and as a major humanitarian aid base in the region.

The base, also known as Gitmo, will upgrade its limited satellite communications system to an underwater fiber optic line that will stretch from the base to the coast of Florida, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale. . . . The outdated satellite communications system was overburdened with the military court hearing the cases of the top 9/11 plotters and other war-on-terrorism suspects, as well as the ongoing detention operations.

Furthermore, Guantanamo Bay is hardly the only offshore site where terrorist detainees are being held: Suspected terrorists captured by U.S. troops are being held or interrogated, as part of the “rendition” process, all around the world. The Obama administration has claimed to be more circumspect in use of this policy, but it’s still going strong, and in some extremely unpleasant places. As the Washington Post reported last month, U.S. intelligence operations in Africa have expanded remarkably of late, and thus, we’re even sending detainees to Somali prisons. Eli Lake had an excellent report about this in The Daily Beast recently, explaining where growing number of our detainees are headed:

One answer can be found here in the dusty Somali port city of Bosaso, where corrugated-metal shacks look as if they might be blown away in the next storm, and summer temperatures easily top 110 degrees. Overcrowded, underfunded, and reeking of urine, the Bosaso Central Prison could make even the most dedicated insurgent regret ever getting into the terrorism business. Many inmates don’t have shoes, and instead of uniforms, they wear filthy T-shirts and ankle-length garments wrapped around their waists that resemble sarongs (called ma-awis in Somali). When I visited earlier this year, the warden, Shura Sayeed Mohammed, told me he had 393 prisoners in a place designed to hold no more than 300. He said that since 2009, he had received 16 inmates captured by Americans. . . .

Bosaso, along with other remote prisons around the world, is one of the less well-known and least-understood aspects of the war on terror. When President Barack Obama came into office, he expanded the scope of Central Intelligence Agency and military-drone operations in the Islamic world, while also taking steps to end America’s role in detaining suspects captured overseas in that war. He shut the remaining CIA black site prisons in Europe, and handed over high-value Iraqi detainees to the Iraqi courts. Guantanamo Bay no longer takes new inmates, though it continues to house prisoners who haven’t yet been transferred to other countries. In practice, however, Obama’s plan to get America out of the international jailer business means that developing-world prisons have picked up the slack. . . .

Was it Obama calling Romney a prospective “outsourcer-in-chief”?

Patrick Brennan was a senior communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and is former opinion editor of National Review Online.


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