Interview: Problems in Closing Guantanamo Detention Camp
Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
Interviewee: Matthew C. Waxman, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Law and Foreign Policy
December 18, 2008
You've had a good deal of experience working on the problems surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Can you give a sense of how this whole detention center got set up in the first place?
After 9/11 and especially after the initial phases of the war in Afghanistan, the United States and its coalition partners were capturing, holding, and wanting to interrogate a large number of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters and needed a place to do it. Initially, Guantanamo served two functions: one was as a secure detention facility, a place far from the front lines of battle that the United States could control and secure relatively easily. In addition, Guantanamo served an intelligence mission. The belief was that some of the most important information the United States and its partners needed to glean, analyze, integrate, and then utilize, was inside the heads of those it was capturing, so-called human intelligence.
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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.
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