The University of New Hampshire Law Review


[Excerpt] “In the lead up to the 2008 Presidential election, there was broad bipartisan support for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. President Bush was quoted as saying, “I’d like it to be over with.” John McCain and General Colin Powell echoed similar sentiments for ending detention at the naval base. In addition to prominent Republicans calling for closure, public opinion began to support finding alternative solutions for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Barack Obama wasted no time once sworn into office executing his central campaign promises. On January 22, 2009, two days after becoming the forty-fourth President of the United States, Obama signed three executive orders in the presence of sixteen retired admirals and generals in the Oval Office. These orders (1) suspended military commissions; (2) set a timetable and created procedures to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility; (3) revoked all existing executive orders that were inconsistent with U.S. Geneva Convention treaty obligations concerning interrogation of detained individuals; and (4) created a task force to review U.S. detention policy options and U.S. interrogation techniques.

With the public backing its shutdown, prominent Republicans and Democrats alike calling for its closure, and the President’s executive orders creating the framework and timeline for implementation, the end of U.S. detentions at Guantanamo Bay seemed a fait accompli. Yet, in 2011, Guantanamo Bay continues to operate and currently houses approximately 180 post-9/11 detainees who have not been tried for any crimes. This essay asks: Why, what happened?”

Repository Citation

Erin B. Corcoran, Obama's Failed Attempt to Close Gitmo: Why Executive Orders Can't Bring About Systemic Change, 9 U.N.H. L. REV. 207 (2011), available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol9/iss2/6