By Derrick Perkins (File Photo)
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) has fought to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center for years. But the longtime congressman expects that his efforts will ultimately end in futility.
“I’ve tried everything I can do. I think the president feels he has, too,” Moran said Monday after returning from his first trip to the facility since 2007. “It’s just not going to happen.”
His tour of the detention center coincided with the White House’s announcement that it would release two detainees to Algerian authorities — the first repatriation of a prisoner in almost a year, according to The Washington Post. President Barack Obama, who’s weathered criticism for not shutting down the facility, has blamed Congress for holding up efforts to transfer more detainees.
Moran, who views the facility as a legal zone where the basic tenants of U.S. law go ignored, said part of the problem stems from the public’s perception of the prisoners at the naval base.
“I think that most Americans feel that folks being held there are the worst of the worst and that they should not be allowed into the U.S.,” he said. “And the members of Congress know their constituents believe that, and whether they do or not, they’re going to vote accordingly.”
Sixteen of the 166 detainees are the “worst of the worst,” Moran said, and can — and should — be tried. As for the rest, they ought to be released, but he isn’t counting on it or the facility’s closure any time soon.
“I think that we should be true to our principles, and one of our fundamental principles is equal justice under the law,” he said. “[The detention center] was constructed to be in an extra legal zone where people are not subject to U.S. law — where we could do what we wanted with them without being subjected to U.S. law. I think it erodes our moral and legal standing here at home.”