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Sep. 25 2009 - 9:46 am | 11 views | 0 recommendations | 15 comments

White House: We blew it on Gitmo

So White House advisor Greg Craig has been stuffed into a broom closet for advising Obama to close Gitmo, a position Obama himself shouted every day from every grassy knoll in the country last year. It was a ridiculous, nakedly political position, divorced from all reality, but the left-wing base just had to be appeased. A fourth grader would have had the sense to ask of and demand an answer from Obama on what he planned to do with the terrorists once he closed Gitmo, but that question apparently didn’t occur to anybody with press credentials. After all, there is nothing inherently evil about Gitmo, any more than there is anything inherently evil about the Pelican Bay supermax prison in California. They are just sticks and bricks. More importantly, those sticks and bricks are on an island, far away from Americans. Why the left would want to close a building on an island and bring terrorists here defies logic.

Anyway, though it took 8 months, the administration has finally admitted what we have all known; they screwed the pooch on Gitmo. From The Washington Post.

With four months left to meet its self-imposed deadline for closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Obama administration is working to recover from missteps that have put officials behind schedule and left them struggling to win the cooperation of Congress.

Even before the inauguration, President Obama’s top advisers settled on a course of action they were counseled against: announcing that they would close the facility within one year. Today, officials are acknowledging that they will be hard-pressed to meet that goal.

The White House has faltered in part because of the legal, political and diplomatic complexities involved in determining what to do with more than 200 terrorism suspects at the prison. But senior advisers privately acknowledge not devising a concrete plan for where to move the detainees and mishandling Congress.

First of all, who counseled Team Obama against closing Gitmo? I don’t recall anything but wall to wall proclamations from Obama himself about how he was going to shut it down. So if there were advisors, they apparently knew a lot more about governing than Obama did.

But the big admission is that they had no plan. When you elect a guy who has never run so much as a lemonade stand to be president, you can’t expect to have him succeed, never mind excel, at a job as complex as that of President of the United States.

Of course no failure of the Obama administration would be complete without blaming George W. Bush for his part in the debacle.

Craig said Thursday that some of his early assumptions were based on miscalculations, in part because Bush administration officials and senior Republicans in Congress had spoken publicly about closing the facility. “I thought there was, in fact, and I may have been wrong, a broad consensus about the importance to our national security objectives to close Guantanamo and how keeping Guantanamo open actually did damage to our national security objectives,” he said.

I am sure everyone remembers Bush and his pals all talking about closing Guantanamo Bay all year last year, right? Uh, well it slips my memory, but I am sure we have video of Bush and Obama at a press conference talking about the bipartisan plan to close Gitmo. Anybody seen that?

I didn’t think so.


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  1. collapse expand

    Yeah, a lot of flat-earthers still insist that Gitmo was filled exclusively with “terrorists,” no matter how many knowledgeable sources (including many within the US Armed Services) contradict that plainly-false premise. No reason to let facts get in the way, of course.

  2. collapse expand

    Mr. Dupray,

    You have confused two quite issues; 1) IF the prison at Guantanamo Bay SHOULD be closed, 2) If it is to be closed, HOW it is be closed. You appear to be arguing that the problems that the WH has experienced are because they have determined that the prison SHOULD NOT be closed. However, the problem appears different than that, the problem seems to be that the WH did not PLAN properly on HOW to close the base properly by not figuring out what to do with the internees. That may well be true but it does not mean that the prison should be kept open, only that the WH should have done a better job of figuring out how to close it. So it is really a question of better planning rather than poor policy.

    • collapse expand

      Why should Gitmo be closed? How is Obama or the country damaged by leaving it open?

      Presumably the rationale of the left for closing the place was that Bush detained the guys indefinitely and should have tried them and let them go if they were acquitted.

      The problem is that, by that reasoning, Obama is an even bigger villain. After all, Obama has acknowledged that even if the guys are tried and acquitted, they still may be detained indefinitely.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Mr. Dupray,

        I fear that you have missed my point. Mr. Craig was not “put in the closet” because the WH now thinks that the Guantanamo Bay prison should be kept open but because he did a poor job planning for its closure. These are two entirely different issues that you have conflated.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Yes, Obama IS an even bigger villain for saying that people can be held indefinitely without trial and further, that they have no habeas rights whatsoever if they are held at Bagram instead of Gitmo.

        What of it?

        As for this:

        “After all, there is nothing inherently evil about Gitmo, any more than there is anything inherently evil about the Pelican Bay supermax prison in California. They are just sticks and bricks. More importantly, those sticks and bricks are on an island, far away from Americans. Why the left would want to close a building on an island and bring terrorists here defies logic.”

        It’s hard to know where to begin.
        1) Of course they are just sticks and bricks. No one is arguing otherwise. People who want Gitmo closed are not advocating that the prisoners be transferred to a supermax or to Bagram and held without trial THERE.

        2) If by bringing terrorists here you mean putting CONVICTED terrorists in a supermax, what pray tell, is the problem with that? Sticks and bricks. They aren’t going to escape from a supermax any more than they are going to escape from Gitmo.

        There are only two reasons to keep Gitmo open.

        1) To try to keep the prisoners in legal limbo instead of putting them on trial.

        2) To placate fraidy-cat, conservative bed-wetters like you who are scared that big, bad terrorists have the awesome superpowers needed to break out of a supermax but don’t have awesome enough superpowers to get them off of Cuba.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    There is no video of Bush and Obama talking about closing Gitmo because Bush did not run against Obama. Remember McCain? Now he did want to close Gitmo along with Obama and considering he is republican one could say there was bipartisan support closure. It is no doubt in some debate video. The White House screwed up, Obama screwed up, no one is denying this, if it makes you happy just say so instead of twisting logic in trying to make some weird point.

  4. collapse expand

    Could you site which portion of the Constitution allows citizens and prisoners of war to be kept in prison indefinitely without trial or habeas corpus? One would think this was settled with Lincoln and Japanese internment.

    • collapse expand

      I didn’t say they could be held, Obama did. My point is simply that if you want to give these guys rights, go ahead and give them to them. If you want to try them in front of a federal judge, do it. All of those things can be done at Gitmo. Do you disagree?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Yes I disagree because Gitmo is a military base and is not on American territory, it is American in name only, the same way any foreign base or embassy is. It does not have an independent court system that uses rules under our judicial civil code. Now if we could agree on setting up a world court there, such a Nuremberg, there could be chance of working. The idea was to change the perception of a gulag by Islamists, of changing perception of our fellow democracies that we are a country of laws and can handle criminals international or domestic under the basic laws handed down from the time of the Magna Carta.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Regardless of whether it was a good idea or a pragmatic idea to have the prison closed within a year, I’d like to point out that it wasn’t a “left wing base” idea. John McCain ran on a similar pledge.

    • collapse expand

      McCain’s position on Gitmo is not shared by a majority of Republicans, 91% of whom oppose it. Frankly, Americans, by a 65-32% margin oppose it as well. That is because the rationale for doing so is nonsensical.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Bill,

        How in the world did McCain win the nomination if so many Republicans oppose his ideas? I am not being sarcastic, nor disputing your accuracy in disputing McCain as a main stream conservative but would appreciate your view of this anomaly. I think you know conservatives far better than I. It does seem McCain is trying to be a good conservative: he has a shit whenever someone suggests he and Obama agree on anything. I imagine that thumbs up at the Joint Congressional Session cost him.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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    About Me

    I am a lawyer afflicted with a consuming desire to analyze and debate politics.

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