Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Close Guantanamo now!

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
May 3, 2013 -- Updated 1750 GMT (0150 HKT)
President Barack Obama signed an executive order on January 22, 2009, to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Five years later, the prison for terrorism suspects remains open, with 155 detainees (as of December 2013). Click through for a look inside the <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/11/opinion/warren-guantanamo-bay/index.html'>controversial facility</a>. Here, President George W. Bush's official picture is replaced by Obama's in the lobby of the headquarters of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo on January 20, 2009, the day the latter was sworn in as president. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on January 22, 2009, to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Five years later, the prison for terrorism suspects remains open, with 155 detainees (as of December 2013). Click through for a look inside the controversial facility. Here, President George W. Bush's official picture is replaced by Obama's in the lobby of the headquarters of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo on January 20, 2009, the day the latter was sworn in as president.
HIDE CAPTION
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Photos: Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Photos: Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
Inside Guantanamo Bay
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Radio podcast features CNN Opinion contributors on top three stories
  • Dean Obeidallah: Our guest, Aasif Mandvi, argues that we should close Gitmo
  • Margaret Hoover: Jason Collins was courageous in coming out of the closet
  • John Avlon: Why not give Mark Sanford a second chance - even though he had an affair?

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- "Terrorists use Guantanamo Bay prison to recruit new members." Aasif Mandvi, "The Daily Show's" senior correspondent, passionately made this argument as our first guest ever on the weekly CNN podcast "The Big Three." Mandvi thinks it's time to close Guantanamo Bay now -- and I couldn't agree with him more.

President Obama brought this issue back to the forefront when he renewed his call to close the prison facility. Obama explained at his press conference on Tuesday: "It is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. ... It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It is a recruiting tool for extremists."

Mandvi echoed President Obama's sentiments that the United States cannot simply hold people indefinitely without affording them the opportunity to answer the charges against them. "Why can't we try these prisoners in court? We have done that with other terrorists like Timothy McVeigh," Mandvi said.

Mandvi, who appeared in the Off-Broadway play, "Guantanamo," and can be seen in the soon-to-be-released comedy film, "The Internship," spoke about his discussion with the father of a Guantanamo detainee. The father made a simple plea to Mandvi: "Try my son in court, and if you find him guilty of being a terrorist, execute him. If not, then let him go."

There are 166 prisoners in the prison. Eighty-six of them have been cleared for release by our government but have still not been set free.

Many of these prisoners are on a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention. In response, prison officials are force-feeding them by inserting tubes through their nasal passages, a practice that the U.N. Human Rights Office declared as torture.

Should the U.S. government close Gitmo and put the prisoners not cleared for release on trial? That's the first issue in this week's episode of "The Big Three," which features CNN contributors Margaret Hoover, John Avlon and me.

Here is a brief summary of the big three issues we took on:

John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, Dean Obeidallah
John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, Dean Obeidallah

1. Guantanamo Bay Prison -- close it now? Our guest, Mandvi, emphatically argued yes. Hoover noted that more than 40 of the prisoners have been deemed too violent to ever be released. Avlon expressed concerns that national security secrets could be released if these prisoners were tried in open court.

2. Is Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out of the closet, the Jackie Robinson of gay athletes? While all three of us applauded Collins' courage in coming out, we disagreed over its significance when compared to Jackie Robinson. Avlon argued that Robinson was far more important because racism was a much more polarizing issue at the time and also, Robinson was a far superior athlete. We all agreed, though some of the criticism Collins received makes it clear the fight to end homophobia still has a long way to go.

Outrage over Gitmo

3. Who will voters pick in the congressional special election in South Carolina next week? Mark Sanford, a Republican former governor who famously cheated on his wife by sneaking off to Argentina, or Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a liberal-ish Democrat who is the sister of Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert?

Avlon was the moderator of a recent debate between Sanford and Busch. Some were shocked that Busch brought up Sanford's past affair. I'm not shocked. In fact, I think it tells us a great deal about Sanford's character. Avlon argued that many have forgiven Bill Clinton for his escapades, why shouldn't Sanford get a second chance? Hoover noted that the demographics of the district are becoming moderate, which can help Busch win the May 7 election.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these issues. To listen to this episode, click on the Soundcloud audio player on this page. Or you can find us on iTunes.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2103 GMT (0503 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT)
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT