Don't Close Gitmo Just for Symbolism

Detention center is ugly but necessary, writes Michael Gerson
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2010 1:20 AM CST
A mobile guard tower stands over a camp for Chinese Uighur detainees at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Guantanamo Bay is an ugly place to Americans and the rest of the world but there's no point in closing it just for the sake of symbolism, writes Michael Gerson. George Bush decided against closing it because of the problem of what to do with the detainees. President Obama opted for symbolism, but the shutdown attempt has been badly bungled by Eric Holder, Gerson notes in the Washington Post.

Facilities and procedures have been improved at Guantanamo over the years, Gerson writes. Holder's missteps—like the decision to hold the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial in Manhattan—have had the effect of making America take another look at Guantanamo and could decide that keeping it open may be the best option after all. "Ugly things, such as maximum-security prisons, can be necessary," Gerson concludes. "And symbolism can be costly, even dangerous."

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