Arlington VA 03-09-2011
Keeping Guantanamo open breaks the last (And biggest) of his campaign promises
As he has so often in the past, Obama has taken expediency over truth with the American Public on the Guantanamo issue.
Let's look at his record.
As CNN reported on January 22, 2009, "Promising to return America to the "moral high ground" in the war on terrorism, President Obama issued three executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration, including one requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year. "
"During a signing ceremony at the White House, Obama reaffirmed his inauguration pledge that the United States does not have "to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals."
"The president said he was issuing the order to close the facility in order to "restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism."
The administration put the military trials on hold for two years so that it could review the status of the 170 or so remaining detainees and make changes in the military tribunals, including rules of evidence and a review process for the detainees. That was after the promise to close Gitmo within a year.
That quickly became a hollow statement as the administration was embarassed several times over trials in Federal Courts--cancelling the show trial that Eric Holder, the Attorney General, devised foir New York City, only to cancel it after a hugh backlash from the City, The State of new York, and the Congress. Eventually, Obama had to eat crow when the 2010 budget resultion included language to prevent the use of Federal funds to close the facility.
Now come the new executive order, which revereses everything Obama had promised.
As NPR News reports, "The order lends formal permission to the policy by which the U.S. has held detainees at the prison — detainees who, in most cases, have not been charged or convicted but are deemed too dangerous to release. It also ends a two-year ban on the use of military commissions to try suspected terrorists."
"Obama said Monday that his new policies will help "bring terrorists to justice." But the new policy statement wasn't much more than a recognition of fact and frustration. Congress has forbidden the administration to bring terrorism suspects from Guantanamo onto American soil for trial or imprisonment and also has made it harder to send detainees to other countries."
"Obama has said he is still committed to closing the prison and trying terrorists in civilian courts. But Monday's announcement made it clear that he would not be able to fulfill one of his most famous promises: "I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and will follow through on that," he said on 60 Minutes shortly after he was elected."
"This has turned out very badly for them," says Ben Wittes, an expert on law and terrorism at the Brookings Institution. The executive order "begins a process of breaking the paralysis that has gripped the administration on a subject that was, two years ago, supposed to be one of their early and very vivid accomplishments," Wittes says.
The order also acknowledges that the prison population has probably reached an irreducible minimum, he says. It's "an effort to create a process for long-term detainees at Guantanamo, whom they are not going to be letting go anytime soon and they hope to be eventually moving to the U.S. when they close Guantanamo," he says. "But that doesn't seem to be happening, either."
The administration put the military trials on hold for two years so that it could review the status of the 170 or so remaining detainees and make changes in the military tribunals, including rules of evidence and a review process for the detainees. Now we go back to th4e commissions where the alleged terrorists can be tried, conviceted and sentenced without any right to even see the evidence against them.
Certainly sounds a lot like George Bush to me.
I have no problem with keeing Gitmo open--it is probably the best place for detainees. What I do have a problem with is the constant backtracking on virtually every issue Obama raised in his campaign and promised to fix. Politics as usual.