Friday, October 24, 2014
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Guantanamo Bay Prison Blues

Inside WashingtonPresident Obama plans to close the infamous prison


By Louie Christensen

Just this month the White House announced that it is planning to make a strong push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. They have even expressed a willingness to go around Congress if faced with opposition. Can you hear the political train coming? President Obama has already taken several steps to prepare the prison for closure, and it appears a final decision is rolling around the bend. As the prisoners’ time keeps dragging on through the various phases of the war, a resolution now seems inevitable down in Washington D.C.

The problem with Guantanamo Bay, often referred to as GTMO – and pronounced “GITMO” – is that it has been caught in a patriotic ad hominem since it was established in 2002. Somewhere along the way the prison became an unquestionable beacon of justice against terrorism for those who supported the war. Doubting the necessity of the prison meant you were immediately branded as a terrorist lover and a troop hater. The only way to think about the continuation of GTMO is to take off the red, white and blue colored glasses and look at the cold hard facts. Is it worth keeping the prison open, or has it become an unnecessary expense? 

The fear of moving war criminals into prisons on U.S. soil has been referred to as a main concern. The truth is there are far more dangerous and resourceful (not to mention convicted) criminals already being housed in federal prisoners all over the country. From Reno down to San Antonio, there are hundreds of MS-13 gang members in prison who would shoot a man just to watch him die. The concern with moving GTMO’s detainees is…politics and trial dates.

Does it surprise you that of the almost 800 prisoners held at GTMO since it opened in 2002, nearly 700 had already been released before President Obama had even taken office? Of the 149 prisoners who still remain in captivity, 79 of them have been approved for transfer from GTMO. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was accused of orchestrating the attacks of September 11, 2001 as well as nine others are currently in pretrial hearings. Another 23 have been referred for prosecution by military commission. What does all this math add up to?

Only 37 prisoners have been labeled as too dangerous to be released, but the government lacks usable evidence to prove their guilt. As a result they have been designated for continued detention without trial until such evidence surfaces. All this fuss hangs on the heads of these 37 men…too dangerous to be freed from prison, but not guilty enough to face court. But, this problem is easily solved by the allied countries who, as mentioned above, are willing to house the prisoners. Thus, moving the conviction problem a little farther down the line.

But, why even bother closing the prison? GTMO seems to be working just fine. It’s not like each prisoner is costing the U.S. something ridiculous like a million dollars a year to house. Well, you’re right. They don’t cost a million dollars a year, a recent estimate put the cost of each prisoner at a little over $2.7 million a year. Compare that whopping price tag to the cost of the average inmate in a maximum security federal prison of $33,000 dollars, and you can understand why this conversation is gaining some ground.

Should the President go over Congress’s head to force the prison to close? No, it should not be a unilateral decision, and obviously more than just money needs to be factored into the final ruling. Is President Obama’s decision horribly timed with the recent rise of ISIS and the upcoming elections? Absolutely, there couldn’t be a more difficult time to convince anyone on either side of the aisle to help him make the prison’s closure happen. But, politics is politics and someone’s name has to go down in history as the person who passed the bill that closed the Bay.

It appears that there are a lot of options out there to close the prison and still keep a strong grip around terrorism’s neck. Maybe it’s time to take the options seriously. 

This week pray for the top U.S. military officials, and Congress as they weigh in on the matter. But, most importantly pray for softened hearts within the prison. It’s hard to pray for your enemies, but God’s light shines brightest in the darkest places.

Louie Christensen is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona. He works as an Account Executive in Scottsdale Arizona.

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