“We write to you now to urge you to use the upcoming hearings… to partner with the administration to further refine the plan and to energize the efforts to close Guantanamo,” retired generals Joseph P. Hoar and Charles C. Krulak said on Thursday. “Guantanamo does not serve America’s interests… It complicates our diplomacy with allies, especially with regard to counter-terrorism operations.”
In the open letter, which was released by the advocacy group Human Rights First on Thursday, former Guantanamo Bay commander Michael Lenhert called on Congress to seek alternatives for the facility.
“Perhaps, rather than introducing legislation to keep Guantanamo open, national security concerns are better addressed with legislation that requires a well-crafted plan that addresses release of previously cleared detainees and continued detention of those detainees that still present a risk to our national security,” Lenhert said.
Monitoring groups have long called on the government to close the facility on human rights grounds. Amnesty International has called for prosecution of American officials responsible for torture and enforced disappearances at the prison.
US President Barack Obama issued an executive order, demanding the prison’s closure in 2009, but Congress later passed legislation barring the administration from transferring Guantanamo detainees to the US mainland. The administration has instead sought to release detainees to third countries.
Currently, 122 detainees remain at Guantanamo, 54 of which have been cleared for release, according to Human Rights First. Thirty-five have been designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial, a practice which Human Rights Watch says is contrary to international law.