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Why Obama Hasn’t Closed Gitmo

April 24th, 2011 at 3:22 am | 13 Comments |

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The Washington Post reports:

The sputtering end of the Obama administration’s plans to prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed in federal court came one day late last month in a conversation between the president and one of his top Cabinet members.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had called President Obama to inform him that he would be returning the case to the Defense Department, illness a decision that would mark the effective abandonment of the president’s promise to close the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, health Cuba.

During the call, advice Obama did not press Holder to find a way to resurrect the federal prosecution of Mohammed and four co-defendants, according to senior administration officials familiar with the conversation. He did not object. Instead, he called it a pragmatic decision.

It was a fittingly quiet coda to the effort to close the military detention center. For more than two years, the White House’s plans had been undermined by political miscalculations, confusion and timidity in the face of mounting congressional opposition, according to some inside the administration as well as on Capitol Hill. Indeed, the failed effort to close Guantanamo was reflective of the aspects of Obama’s leadership style that continue to distress his liberal base — a willingness to allow room for compromise and a passivity that at times permits opponents to set the agenda.

The president answered questions about his Guantanamo policy when asked, but only once in two years, other than in a major speech at the National Archives, did he raise the issue on his own. Guantanamo was competing with other legislative priorities, particularly health care, that consumed most of the administration’s attention.

“During 2009 and early 2010, he is totally engaged in the struggle to get health-care reform,” a White House participant said when asked about the president’s engagement with the effort to close Guantanamo. “That occupies his mind, and his time.”

Obama has conceded that Guantanamo will not close anytime soon. “Obviously I haven’t been able to make the case right now, and without Congress’s cooperation, we can’t do it,” he said this month in an interview with the Associated Press. “That doesn’t mean I stop making the case.”

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • nhthinker

    Obama’s wild-eyed idealism came into violent collision with voter sensibilities.
    Hey, but he duped the rest of the wild-eyed liberal idealists that they could prevail and got their help without delivering. Obama has basically caved to almost all the programs that Dick Cheney recommended.
    How’s that feel, Liberals?
    1) Guantanamo
    2) Escalation in Afghanistan with no end-game.
    3) Escalation of the execution and maiming of suspected enemies with Predator drones (and their families are just acceptable collateral damage.) (Is this policy morally better than enhanced interrogation techniques of known terrorists? )

    Obama, the Rorschach ink blot candidate that promised all thing to all liberals and delivered almost nothing- He’ll spend the next 18 months figuring out how to continue to change his image to appeal to independents. Some will buy it.

  • ram6968

    obama can’t close gitmo and try them in a federal court because dumbass george w tortured the inmates and they may “walk” in a civilian court because of it

    • nhthinker

      …. but dumbasses Obama and Holder KNEW the treatment of prisoners before they promised to make a federal case out of it.

      And they have only given other reasons that do not include treatment of prisoners: Are you calling dumbasses Obama and Holder liars?

      • Bagok

        I wish Obama and Holder were smart enough to fix all the problems Bush left them.

  • baw1064

    nhthinker is suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    What evidence is there that Obama is a “wild-eyed idealist”? Everything you cite makes clear that either he isn’t one, or at the very least, he realizes that idealism must be tempered by practical considerations.

    I voted for Obama in 2008 because I didn’t think he was a wild-eyed idealist. Everything I’ve seen since then convinces me my assessment was correct.

    The inability of Obama (or anyone else, for that matter) to close Guantanamo is the fundamental problem with that whole approach. Once you go that way, you’ve painted yourself into a corner and there’s no way out. We’re now stuck with it until the last detainee dies of old age.

    • nhthinker

      I said Obama was the “Rorschach ink blot candidate”: by that I meant everyone that voted for him read into him what they wanted to. You are only an example that supports my point.

      Obama knew the story of the detainees within months of his taking office, probably even before. Holder calculated that some State in the US could be forced to take the Guantanamo detainees and Obama trusted him. After over 2 years, they finally gave up to a reality that was obvious to everyone but wild-eyed leftists.

      • TerryF98

        Illinois was quite willing to take the detainees, the town where the proposed prison was sited begged for them to be sent there in order to create jobs and income into the local economy.

        The reason they are not there is because of all the cowards in congress most of them typical shit the bed Republicans who freaked out at the thought.

        By the way when are you going to sue the people you threatened on the bither thread or are you just a typical RW wuss?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    nhthinker, the jabbering continues…

    Of course we have to close Gitmo, the Castro’s are old and if these past few months have shown us anything it is that indigenous uprisings can happen anywhere at anytime and it seems with the not too distant deaths of the Castros the likelihood is much greater. Does anyone want American soldiers to die protecting KSM if the revolution spills into the area around Gitmo? Wouldn’t it be the least bit prudent to take precautions NOW and move these people off of Cuba? And what if the freedom fighters win and ask that Gitmo be closed as a prison, jackasses like neverthinker would say NO, we want to use your country like a toilet. His being an evil bastard I can understand how that would be his reaction, to most Americans what would our justification be to use a military base as a prison on foreign soil contrary to the wishes of a Democratically elected government in Cuba. Now can I prove that after the Castros die that there will be a revolution? No, but why bet against it?

    And Jackass notthinker, ever hear of Johnston’s atoll in the South pacific? move the prisoners there. Or some other island possession of ours in the south pacific or even the caribbean. We have a big country moron.
    You have such a limited view of geography that such things do not occur to you. Now of course if we did move them there asshole Republicans would scream at the cost.

    • nhthinker

      You recommend that the primary reason for closing Guantanamo was because of Castro?
      I doubt you can get very many FF posters (nor anyone else) to agree with your reasoning.

      Most of those on the left were not wanting to treat detainees as persons of war, but instead criminals that deserve the American civil justice system. Your suggestion of other U.S. possessions outside the US is unlikely to be pleasing to Holder and Obama.

      I certainly never thought of things that way but I appreciate your contribution.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    And I guarantee you that if braindead notthinker responds it will be with a non sequitur that will make no sense.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “You recommend that the primary reason for closing Guantanamo was because of Castro?” Duh, they are both very old men. How long will the Commie state last without them?
    Fidel Castro is in his 80′s, again, as recent history of revolution shows and given the fact that Castro recently purged a number of high ranking cadres the transistion after he dies will be fraught with peril for the Commies we have to begin to take precautions NOW.

    “Your suggestion of other U.S. possessions outside the US” Basic geography time, US territories are US possessions. The problem is the cost not the feasibility so of course Obama should disagree with it as it would be a freaking waste of money since US supermaxes can easily handle all of those mutts.

    As to getting anyone to agree with my reasoning, most people I know do agree that Gitmo prison should be closed. It violates the whole reason of having foreign bases, and especially that at Gitmo. I used to believe we held it in trust for a future Democratic Cuba, instead we are using it as a US toilet. It is disgraceful.

  • Nomad13

    “Most of those on the left were not wanting to treat detainees as persons of war, but instead criminals that deserve the American civil justice system. Your suggestion of other U.S. possessions outside the US is unlikely to be pleasing to Holder and Obama.”

    I actually agree with this statement. The question I ask is: why don’t you? Treating this group as actual prisoners of war affords them a legitimacy that they should not ever have had. Bush started off doing it as a noble gesture from what I can tell, but that quickly is overshadowed by his willingness to commit human rights violations towards them. This, plus the law of unintended consequences of increased insurgent/terrorist recruiting, diminished standing around the globe, inability to press other nations for THEIR violations, etc., made me ecstatic when Obama wanted to close the base.

    I would much rather have had the detainees moved to Illinois or some other prison. And the only reason they haven’t been? Because Republicans looking to score points instead of doing the right thing pushed the image of all of those terrorists as jedi ninjas who would be able to escape from maximum security prisons at will, while at the same time stealing all of nuclear arsenal and impregnating our daughters. Republicans pushed fear instead of morality. And then have the audacity to push back on the administration when they look for the alternative approach, which was actually giving the right wing what they wanted! It boggles the mind…