It was one year ago today. Remember President Obama’s first full day in office:
“The record is clear: Rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security,” Obama said during an address on national security at the National Archives in Washington.
“It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it.”
At the time the President was roundly criticized for announcing the closing without having any idea what to do with the prisoners in the facility. Today on the anniversary of his promise, the day Gitmo was to close, Guantanamo is still open and there is no new deadline in sight.
….. the Justice Department offices of the Guantanamo task force were bustling – not with lawyers but construction workers tearing apart the walls, ripping out any trace of its secretive work, though Obama’s goal is still far off.
The task force lawyers and staffers from other agencies were gone, having completed recommendations for nearly all of the 198 remaining detainees awaiting transfer, trial or further detention.
Attorney General Eric Holder has reviewed the bulk of those recommendations and decided that the most feared detainee – the self-declared mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – and four henchmen should face trial in New York.
Holder made the move over the objections of the American People. Liberals will tell you that the trial was moved so the terrorists could receive justice….a fair trial with all of the defendant rights that a civilization court offers. The big problem is the guilt of these defendants is a moot point as they already confessed. They said that they wanted to be executed so they could be martyred, meet Allah, and get their 72 ugly virgins. Over a year ago Mohammed and his four co-defendants told the judge that they wished to confess and plead guilty to all charges. The only reason they held off is because the judge could not guarantee the death penalty. Because they already confessed, the only strategy their lawyers will take is to put the victim on trial…us! That is the reason for the move.
For all that work, the Obama administration is still struggling to find the political muscle, diplomatic dexterity and cash from Congress to implement those tough, often unpopular decisions about the remaining detainees.
Unless he decides to change course, to close Guantanamo the president must still find support in Congress to pay for a super-secure prison in the state of Illinois for some of the detainees he wants to continue holding. He must also get additional money, likely hundreds of millions of dollars, to provide extra security to put some suspects, including Mohammed, on trial in federal courts.
Since Obama took office a year ago, more than 40 detainees have been removed from the U.S. naval base in Cuba – sent off to their homelands or to other countries. If the administration cannot quicken that pace, it would take until a hypothetical second Obama term to actually empty the site.
But the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US-bound airliner only gave further fuel to those urging the president to apply the brakes to the prison closure.
The young Nigerian accused in that attempt allegedly told investigators he was trained by al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.
That detail has huge implications for closing Guantanamo, where about 90 – or nearly half – of the remaining detainees are Yemenis, many with no clear place to go even if senior administration officials decide they can be released.
U.S. officials are increasingly worried that the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing attempt, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is so firmly entrenched in parts of that country that sending detainees back to Yemen could provide fresh troops to the terrorists.
The Obama administration, which sent a group of Yemenis home from Guantanamo just days before the failed airliner bombing, has halted any further transfers to Yemen for the near future.
Len Goodman, a Chicago lawyer who just returned Tuesday from a visit to the prison, said the delays have only embittered his client Shawali Khan, an Afghan detainee who was captured in 2002 and has long claimed he is innocent.
“His level of frustration is greater than I’ve ever seen it,” said Goodman. “Everyone had high hopes for Obama, but sadly I think nothing has changed from Bush to Obama, except the conditions are better inside for the detainees. But all in all, it’s just promises made and promises not kept.”
The president, however, “is as committed today to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as he was when he was sworn into office,” said White House spokesman Ben LaBolt.
The high-security military prison, the administration argues, actually weakens national security because it serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists and undermines the United States’ moral authority in combatting such killers. Critics of the closure plan, principally Republicans, say bringing detainees to the U.S. to face trial or shipping them overseas only increases the risk of attacks.
Its a good thing for the country that Gitmo is still open, but the POTUS made America look stupid again by making a promise that he
didn’t keep. didn’t know how to keep when he made it. Happy Anniversary Mr. President, I am sure you can’t wait to have Gitmo closed so you could put America on trial.