Daily Video

February 25, 2016

Obama makes last push to close Guantanamo prison

Essential question

Why is it necessary for the legislative and executive branches to work together on important political issues?

President Barack Obama took steps Tuesday to deliver on a promise made when he first took office seven years ago; closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

When the president took office in 2008, one of his first acts was signing an executive order to close the military prison housing foreign terror suspects in Cuba. At the time, Obama said the prison would be closed within a year. Today, 91 detainees remain in the facility.

Republican opposition to the president’s original executive order and current plan largely focuses mainly on the proposal to move Guantanamo’s remaining detainees to an unspecified location in the United States. They even passed a law that bars housing them on U.S. soil.

President Obama said Tuesday the continued operation of the facility undermines the U.S. fight against terrorism by giving enemies fuel for anti-American propaganda and draining millions from military resources.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will review the plan.

“But since it includes bringing dangerous terrorists to facilities in U.S. communities, he should know that the bipartisan will of Congress has already been expressed against that proposal,” McConnell said.

Key terms

Gitmo – informal reference to the detainment center run by the US military in Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba, in which suspected terrorists are detained and questioned

executive order – a rule issued by the president which carries the full force of law under the Constitution, takes authority from the legislative branch

bipartisan – usually in context of a two-party system, in which opposing parties come together to find common ground; opposite from partisan

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What do you know about the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay?
  2. Do Congress and the president agree on what to do with people accused of committing terrorist acts?
  3. How many prisoners are currently being held there?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. What are the arguments given by President Obama to close the detention center at Guantánamo? What reasons do the Republicans in Congress give to keep it open?
  2. How might politics or bipartisanship be playing a role in the debate over the closure of Guantanamo?
  3. Do you think the U.S. should continue to use Guantanamo to detain potential terror suspects? Explain why or why not.

Additional resources

Why hasn’t the Guantánamo Bay prison closed? | PBS NewsHour report

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