This election season the candidates have focused their message on the employment and the middle class. These issues are no doubt important, but what is the hyper-focus on economy leaving out of the campaign? The Takeaway series "Don't Mention It" looks at issues ignored this election year. Today we begin with Guantanamo Bay.
The only person to mention Guantanamo in this campaign year wasn't a candidate, or even a politician. It was Clint Eastwood, in his Republican National Convention monologue with an empty chair.
As a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2007, Mitt Romney suggested that he wanted to increase the number of prisoners at Guantanamo, as he explained in a televised debate:
"I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."
The 2012 Republican Platform ignores Guantanamo. The Democrats’ platform has a more nuanced approach than it did in 2008, promising to eventually close the facility. It states, "We are substantially reducing the population at Guantanamo Bay without adding to it, and we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values."
Miami Herald correspondent Carol Rosenberg explains why Guantanamo is missing this campaign season, and what Americans still need to know about the detention facility.
Part of the reason that Guantanamo has been neutralized as an issue, is because Congress has blocked closure. Nevertheless, President Obama and Mitt Romney have very different positions on the matter. Furthermore, both candidates are focused on the U.S. economy at the moment, and as Carol Rosenberg points out, "Guantanamo is expensive. Guantanamo costs about $800,000 a year a detainee, and since the whole issue seems to be how are we going to save money, and how are we going to get people back to work in the next four years, Guantanamo just doesn't seem to fit into the narrative."
So far, there have only been six convictions at Guantanamo. As Rosenberg explains, "There are 166 men there, only a couple convicted, and the rest, either awaiting trial, designated for indefinite detention, or just being held until somebody figures out a solution for this."
Guantanamo remains unresolved as ever.