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Jake Hickey

COMS 235
Dr. Rowland
March 16th, 2016
Effective Analysis Paper
President Obamas Remarks by the President on Plan to Close the Prison at Guantanamo
Bay is an important piece of rhetoric to look at because the issues being discussed in the
presidents speech are very relevant at this time, especially with the terrorists attacks that
continue to occur too frequently. President Obama has stressed time and time again the
importance of shutting down the prison and his goal to get Guantanamo Bay closed before the
end of his second term, which ends this year. The debate surrounding the closing of Guantanamo
Bay prison has kept on growing because the issue has yet to be resolved in a timely manner. The
closing of Guantanamo Bay has been a controversial issue for all of president Obamas time in
office because it was a problem handed down to him from the previous president, George W.
In president Obamas speech regarding the plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,
there are four important themes throughout the entire speech. First, president Obama explains
that keeping Guantanamo Bay open is contrary to our values as a nation. In the third paragraph
of the speech, the president states, As Americans, we pride ourselves on being a beacon to other
nations, a model of the rule of law (Obama, 2016, Par. 3). President Obama seems to be
referencing that what goes on at Guantanamo Bay prison is the wrong way of doing things. The
second theme in Obamas speech is that keeping the doors open at Guantanamo Bay is hurting
Americas current fight against terrorism instead of helping the cause. The prison at Guantanamo

Bay has played an important role for the last several years in detaining those prisoners that
threatened the safety of the United States as well as other countries. The third theme of the
speech is that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would cost less money than to keep the
prison open and running, which president Obama believes would save American taxpayers a lot
of money. The fourth and final theme throughout president Obamas speech is that progress has
been made in working to close down the prison, but the final goal has not yet been accomplished.
According to, the number of inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison has dropped
from 238 when president Obama took office to 91, which is the current number of inmates still
being held at Guantanamo.
President Obama faced several barriers while presenting his new plan to close the prison
at Guantanamo Bay. When looking at audience barriers, there are two important ones to
understand. First, many people hold the belief that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and
transferring the inmates to prison facilities in other countries could result in those inmates being
freed and rejoining the same terrorists groups they were apart of before. Fox News recently
reported that since Ibrahim al Qosi, a former aide to Osama bin Laden, was released from Gitmo
and transferred to Sudan a state sponsor of terror he has risen through the ranks of the
terrorist organization Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Senator Mark Kirk, 2016). This is a
prime example of a very threatening terrorist being transferred from Guantanamo Bay to another
countrys prison and joining right back up with their terrorist groups. After hearing this, it is hard
to agree that inmates need to be transferred and Guantanamo Bay prison should be shut down.
With that being said, there are still some people who believe closing the prison at Guantanamo
Bay is absolutely necessary. In the article, I Helped Create Gitmo. Now I Want It Shut Down,
Major general Lehnert (2015) states, Violent extremists use it (Guantanamo Bay) as a recruiting

tool. It is a symbol for many around the world of torture, injustice, and illegitimacy. In her
article, Therese Postel also explains how keeping Guantanamo Bay prison open actually helps Al
Qaeda recruit more terrorists. Al Qaeda recruits by focusing on how inmates at the prison are
treated and tortured (Postel, 2013). Another audience barrier that president Obama faces is
getting through to congress. Congress has made it nearly impossible for president Obama to get
the prison at Guantanamo Bay shut down for good and believe the president keeps on explaining
alternative options to Guantanamo Bay instead of actually having a concrete plan to close the
prison down. When looking at the situational barriers president Obama faced during his speech,
there are a couple important ones to understand. The first situational barrier is a cultural one. At
this point in time, America as a country and as a culture is scared when it comes to terrorists
attacks and in my opinion, we should be. By transferring Guantanamo Bay inmates to other
countries or onto United States soil, it seems like that would only increase the chances of another
terrorist attack and put the United States in a very dangerous position. Sending Guantanamo
Bay detainees to the U.S. mainland would only change the zip code, while putting local
communities like Colorado, Kansas, and South Carolina at elevated risk for violent protests at
best, terrorist attacks at worse (Gordon, 2016). The second situational barrier Obama faces is
the complexity of closing down Guantanamo Bay. The issue of shutting the prison down is very
complex and unless an individual is familiar with every little detail of the plan, it is difficult to
really understand. When looking at the occasional barriers president Obama faces, there is one
important one to realize. The timing and appropriateness of his speech is a barrier because
closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been an issue for all of president Obamas time
in office, and at a certain point people want to see results. President Obama also faces a barrier in

terms of his reputation. On his first day in office, Obama promised to close down Guantanamo
Bay within a year. Finishing the final year of his second term, the prison is still open.
President Obama uses several rhetorical strategies in an attempt to overcome some of the
barriers he faced when presenting his speech. The first strategy he uses is rational argument.
President Obama states, For many years, it has been clear that the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security it undermines it (Obama, 2016 Par.
2). He is talking directly to those individuals who believe Guantanamo Bay should remain open.
The next strategy president Obama uses is the appeal to values. Obama explains that keeping
Guantanamo Bay open is not in line with our values as Americans. He also uses appeal to guilt as
a strategy. President Obama states, 15 years after 9/11 15 years after the worst terrorist attack
in American history we are still having to defend the existence of a facility and a process where
not a single verdict has been reached in those attacks not a single one (Obama, 2016, Par. 3).
Obama also uses the strategy of appealing to fear by directly acknowledging that detaining
dangerous terrorist on American soil can be a scary thought. He points out that there are already
terrorists being detained in the United States, and it is working out all right.
In conclusion, president Obamas speech regarding the closing of the prison at
Guantanamo Bay was not effective overall because there were questions left unanswered at the
end. Like congress explained, president Obama seems to be going over other options besides
Guantanamo Bay, instead of having a concrete plan like where exactly the inmates will be
detained if the Guantanamo Bay does end up closing down and how the inmates will be
transferred. Overall, I do not believe president Obamas strategies overcame the barriers he faced
during his speech.

Works Cited Page

Kirk, M., Sen. (2016, March 21). Sen. Kirk: Guantanamo keeps Americans safe. We must fight
Obama's plan to close it | Fox News. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from
LEHNERT, M., Maj. Gen. (2015, January 11). I Helped Create Gitmo. Now I Want It Shut
Down. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from
Gordon, J. (2016, February 23). Dear Congress, closing Gitmo without a better plan to protect us
is misguided and dangerous | Fox News. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from
Postel, T. (2013, April 12). How Guantanamo Bay's Existence Helps Al-Qaeda Recruit More
Terrorists. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from
Joscelyn, T. (2010, December 27). Gitmo Is Not Al Qaeda's 'Number One Recruitment Tool'
Retrieved March 23, 2016, from
Jacobson, Adam, 'The True Ugly Face of America': Al Qaeda's Propaganda Use of Guantanamo
Bay and Implications for US Counterterrorism (June 2, 2015). Available at SSRN: or