The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The U.S. should not close down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camps

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,589 times Debate No: 8423
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




3 Rounds of Debate
72 Hour Rounds
5,000 Character Limit
2 Week Voting Period


I would like to thank whosoever chooses to accept this debate. I reserve the right to make additional arguments and define additional terms in future rounds of this debate.


I affirm the resolution:
The U.S. government should not close down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

To support the resolution I offer the following:

The U.S. has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into building and maintaining the state-of-the-art facilities at Guantanamo Bay ( Closing down the detention camp would render the cost of building and maintenance wasted.

The Obama Administration has estimated the cost of closing down the detention center and relocating all current detainees to be in the ballpark of an additional $80 million.

These costs are simply too high to lose on closing down a fully-functional state-of-the-art detention center.

If Guantanamo Bay were to close down, we would face the difficult question of what to do with current detainees. Most current U.S. prisons do not want them; most locations for future facilities on U.S. soil do not want them; European nations do not want them. The Obama Administration has yet to come up with a viable solution for what do with the detainees post-Guantanamo Bay.

It would be potentially harmful to U.S. interests to allow enemy combatants access to potential recruits. At least some within the U.S. prison system are disillusioned with the U.S. government due to their imprisonment. The potential for home-grown terrorist organizations; or an alliance between international terrorist organizations and underground criminal organizations in the U.S. (the mafia, street gangs, drug cartels, &ct.) is too dangerous to risk.
The risks (home-grown terrorism) far outweighs any potential reward (improved international reputation) for closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.

If the detainees are to be held and kept separate from the rest of the prison population (either in separate/new facilities or a separate wing of existing facilities) then the annual cost of detention would surely be exponentially higher than keeping them in Guantanamo Bay. Of course, we don't know what the cost will be because the Obama Administration has yet to conduct a study to calculate the annual cost.

The reputation of the U.S. can be repaired in the international community whether the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp remains open or is closed. The simple solution is to cease all torture and unauthorized "enhanced interrogation techniques"; and to treat detainees with all rights usually given to prisoners of war.

The problem is not so much that Guantanamo Bay exists as it is our treatment of detainees therein. To repair our international reputation we must follow the rules of the Geneva Convention.


Because the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camps are state-of-the-art facilities; and
because closing them down would be an unnecessary financial burden; and
because no viable plan has yet to surface as to what to do with detainees post-Guantanamo Bay; and
because our international reputation can be repaired by alternate means:
The Resolution (The U.S. should not close down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camps) is affirmed.


First, I would like to thank my opponent for proposing this debate.

On the Pro Side's first point, that closing the camp would be wasteful, I would argue that money spent on the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center was wasted from the start. This center has done a job which could have been done by an existing US prison, as I will show, while simultaneously failing to make America any safer. Rather, it has made America less safe. The image of Guantanamo Bay is powerful propaganda for America's enemies, and it undermines our moral standing in the world. Continuing to operate Guantanamo Bay as a detention center would be throwing good money after bad simply because we are not willing to admit our own failings.

The more important contention of my opponent is that there is not a suitable alternative. However, I would argue that the US has already at least 44 suitable facilities for housing such high importance prisoners: the US state and federal facilities rated as "Supermaximum security." In fact these facilities already house convicted terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui, Theodore Kaczynski, Terry Nichols, and Richard Reid. [1] These facilities have the best possible in security measures and offer as close to zero chance of escape as is possible. Even if a terror suspect escaped from one of these prisons, I would feel safer with them having to deal with the hostile environment of the United States, where they will be constantly hunted and find no respite, rather than to have them in a nation which is our declared enemy, namely Cuba.

The remaining opposition is that the states simply do not want to accept these new inmates. However, this is irrational given the facts that: a) escape is so very unlikely, and b) some of the most deplorable criminals imaginable are already being held. Federal Supermax prisons exist for this very reason, to house the worst of the worst, and it is the Federal Government's prerogative to hold these men in the existing Federal Prisons.

My opponent did raise the very real threat of home-grown terrorism, but his fears are overblown in this case. Firstly, most of the detainees will only have a marginal understanding of English and so would have difficulty recruiting other inmates. Secondly, these inmates would face risk of persecution at the hands of the prominent white supremacist groups that exist within the prison system. Given this threat, as well as the threat they themselves pose, it would be entirely reasonable to segregate these inmates still further from the general population.

And so I come to the reason why this Detention Center must be closed, and this pertains to my opponent's final point. The international backlash against the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center began almost immediately, with even our closest allies speaking against it. [2] The image of a military prison, placed in a deliberately obscure legal realm was instantly recognizable and undeniable. The Government still further muddled the legal waters by declaring the prisoners a new class of prisoner, not civilian and not POW, but rather detainees. Regardless of what this obfuscation was meant to achieve, it had the result of fueling anti-American suspicions and sentiment.

This is only intensified now that the extent of our enhanced interrogation has become public knowledge. To say that Guantanamo Bay could once more become a normal facility is to deny the powerful symbolism it holds in the eyes of our opponents. While it may indeed be possible to rejuvenate our image without closing it down, it would require a herculean effort to overcome the uphill battle of entrenched public opinion. People's assumptions about this camp have been formed and they are decidedly negative.

Closing the camp allows the United States to admit error and move on. In this moment of a new administration, it is possible for us to say that the use of this camp was in poor judgment, and that the new administration is committed to addressing such mistakes. Retaking the moral high ground is simply a matter of accepting our own fault, and using that as a new metric by which to mark improvement.

The basis of this conflict we find ourselves in is fundamentally a moral one: terrorists and their backers are morally reprehensible. To risk losing the moral high ground by refusing to end this failed system is to risk losing any justification for our cause.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my able opponent for his rapid response.

I will briefly outline the main points of his argument in the order with which they appear. I will then follow it up with my response.


1. Generally speaking, Con concedes that the fiscal considerations are great and constitute a massive waste in federal spending. The point on which we differ is the value of shutting down the detention center. Con believes it is worth the considerable cost to begin repairing our reputation in the world, and I do not. My opposition stems from the belief that merely closing down the detention center will bring negligible to minor benefits to our international reputation. I will address this point later, where Con addresses it more fully.

2. Con states that there are at least "44 suitable facilities" to transfer current Guantanamo (henceforth: Gitmo) prisoners. He points out that these facilities have the "best possible in security measures" rendering a nearly zero chance of escape. If they do manage to escape, he states, the subsequent manhunt would render any worried over violence unfounded. He concludes that it is irrational for states to reject or otherwise not welcome such a transfer because the potential for escape is negligible.
He is certainly correct, that there are suitable facilities. However, finding enough that are not at maximum or beyond maximum capacity will be difficult. Find some among those that would welcome a flood of suspected terrorists has proven even more difficult. As for the states' irrational response: Con may be correct. However, that their response is irrational does not change the fact that they do, in fact, oppose such a transfer.

3. Con suggests that the anxiety over domestic terrorism (through recruitment or international underground alliances) are overblown. To support this he says that a) most detainees have a marginal understanding of English; b) they would be persecuted by white supremacist prison gangs; and c) that it would be a better idea to segregate them from the rest of the prison population.
a) It does not require a perfect understanding of the language to recruit members or develop an alliance. It would only require a few, or even as few as one per prison, to act as negotiator or interpreter.

b) Con puts too much stock in the power of white supremacist persecution within the U.S. prison system. Almost every other race is persecuted by white supremacists, yet they still manage to recruit both inside and outside of prison. I have yet to see any fact or claim that suggests this would not hold true with terror suspects. Furthermore, white supremacist groups are known for being often rapid anti-federal government. It is conceivable that at least some white supremacist groups would develop a working alliance and/or trading system with terror suspects.

c) This is the most valid point advanced by Con on this subject. However, as I mentioned in the first round it would cost much money to build a large enough segregated facility (either on current facilities or freestanding), and even more money (annually) to hire additional security. This would be especially true if we had to spread them out among several prisons. As with the first point, I find this extra cost unnecessary and not worth the little bit of reputation repair that we might gain.

4. The main argument advanced by Con is the terrible reputation that Gitmo has given the U.S. I concede that the activity there (under the Bush Administration) has indeed made our country less safe, and is used by our enemies as a valuable recruiting tool. Con argues that closing down Gitmo would allow the government to "admit error and move on." However, we can easily admit error, halt all torture, extend the usual POW rights to prisoners, and move on. There is no need to close down the expensive, state-of-the-art facility in order to move on or even to repair our reputation. It would be just as effective to halt all torture (by executive order, or legislation), prosecute those that participated (both ordering and carrying out torture), and extending jurisdiction to include the detention center (by executive order, legislation, or the judicial branch).

Neither of these options (closing down Gitmo, or halting torture and extending rights) will have much of an effect on international opinion. Because we engaged in torture at all during this period will still be used by our enemies to make an attempt at the moral high ground, and to recruit new members. The only thing that will fix this is time.


ast0nvilla forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I find it rather disappointing that Con forfeited the second round of a three round debate - especially after he able first round response. I hope he can find the time to respond in the final round. My arguments extend.


ast0nvilla forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
I have more faith in my fellow DDOers to vote based on the merit of each position. If Con wins it is because he is an able opponent (as he has already shown).

I agree that my position may be an unpopular one around here, and if I lose a few points because of it, so be it. At least I was able to discuss the issue. Hopefully people (including myself) will learn something from the debate, regardless of the outcome.
Posted by sadolite 8 years ago
This is a sure loser for pro. Politically incorect topic. No one at gitmo is entitled to due process under civilian law in the US. They are all enemy combatants. They are not even afforded any rights under the Geneva Convention. This is such a no brainer. It is lawyers in the US who have no understanding of the law with regard to the Geneva Convention. If they did this would not even be a topic of discussion.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
Might I convince you to reconsider, then? It might be a good thing for you to make an attempt to learn to limit yourself with words. Sometimes your audience will be less patient, but you still need to get your point across.

You could cut out the unnecessary parts of your argument and just post the relevant and important portions of it. Also, I can expand the debate to the maximum (8,000 characters).
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
A Great debate topic, but I cannot take it as I would need too much space. My only contention would be the "legal black hole" argument due to the location of Gitmo outside of US territory. I cannot do that without a 30 page limit, lol. I am too wordy, I quess. I like how you set this up though; it was well thought out and I wish u luck in the debate.
Posted by ccstate4peat 8 years ago
I love this topic and would enjoy debating it, but I completely agree with you and would find it very hard to debate against this.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
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