January 25, 2009

Obama said he'll close Guantánamo, but will he?

We heard his opaque order the other day, a plan to close down Guantánamo by a year from now, with all the details to be worked out later. That sounded spurious to me from the first minute of this ticking-down year, and I expected the dribbling out of news of complicating, newly discovered circumstances. The dribble starts here:
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
No comprehensive files? Bush screwed it up!
Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said.
Oh! The mismanagement! The files are not all in one place!
The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.
So, first, we have to get all the files in one place, folks, and that's going to take months, after which point we will begin to work on a plan for something to do with the detainees other than to keep them at Guantánamo.
After promising quick solutions, one former senior official said, the Obama administration is now "backpedaling and trying to buy time" by blaming its predecessor. Unless political appointees decide to overrule the recommendations of the career bureaucrats handling the issue under both administrations, he predicted, the new review will reach the same conclusion as the last: that most of the detainees can be neither released nor easily tried in this country.

"All but about 60 who have been approved for release," assuming countries can be found to accept them, "are either high-level al-Qaeda people responsible for 9/11 or bombings, or were high-level Taliban or al-Qaeda facilitators or money people"....

A poll:

Will Obama close Guantanamo?
pollcode.com free polls


Lem said...

Woulndt it be funny if a developer opens it up to the public?

How much would you pay to stay at Gitmo?

traditionalguy said...

Dear Blogger: This question does not arise, by order of The Ministry of Obama Truth.You do know who won, Don't you. There will be no further talk of this since an official Obama Hope message has been issued to you. That is all.

Michael S said...

It needs a White Castle first.

HelenParr said...

Why did you put the accented 'a' in this post when you write in English and there's no accent mark in English?

How do you do that?

TheCrankyProfessor said...

I answered yes - but that's because I believe they will either practice revert to the Clintonian rendition practices of sending them home for safe keeping or move them to a different prison. Bagram?

This looks to be a very letter-of-the-law administration, as we've already seen from their talk of waivers for lobbyists. If you're going to have a policy and pretend to enforce its letter you also have to have a 'waiver' policy.

Ralph said...

Oh look, here's a file at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

traditionalguy said...

When can the faithful Mohammidans begin this new pilgrimage? If we build it they will come, especially if we staff the new Gitmo Spa with 70 Blonde Virgins. (I mean female virgins, Titus). I would not want to hear the music selection on the Al Quieda Juke Box's Top Ten at this spa myself. But this time the Killer's of the Burning Sands will pay the bill themselves for their resort living. Is this like a "catch and release policy" from Obamas' old Chicago community organizing days.

AllenS said...


On your keyboard, put NumLock on. Hold Alt key down and using the numbers on the far right, type 160, then release Alt key.

paul a'barge said...

You people are crazy. Of course Obama is going to close GTMO.

The man already on virtually his first day signed into place an order revoking every legal decision and executive order issued by the Bush Administration since 9/11/2001.

Folks. Not just 5. Or 10. Every single legal decision. Without review and without analysis.

Obama and his administration are going to be single-handedly and completely responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans in the next terror attack that hits us.

And you think he won't close GTMO?


paul a'barge said...

I'd go to GTMO in a heart beat. I have friends with family stationed there and the word is that the SCUBA diving is to die for.

Hurry and die, Fidel. Hurry and die.

TitusIknowWhatBoysLIke said...

I can't wait to hear what Rush has to say about this. This should be good.

I would also be interested in seeing Kirstin Gillebrand's tits. They look nice. Warm, inviting, friendly, open to suckling.

I went out Friday and no one wanted me. It was kind of depressing but I got over it.

TitusIknowWhatBoysLIke said...

Havana is a white hot tourist destination. I so want to go there. Isn't it exciting to think some day we will be able to travel to Cuba? I just hope it happens soon while I am still relatively young because I want to still be able to get Cuban hog.

GeorgeH said...

He promised to close the prison at Gitmo, but he never promised anyone a ride back from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

Maguro said...

Great post. This is pure spin/bullshit from the Obama administration and his pals in the media. They haven't thought through the consequences of their liberal good intentions and now they're trying to figure out what to do next.

I do think he'll close Gitmo, though not within a year. Also agree with Cranky Professor that we'll soon be back to outsourcing interrogations to less squeamish jurisdictions like Egypt and Jordan. How this actually advances human rights is beyond me.

Lem said...

So, first, we have to get all the files in one place, folks, and that's going to take months...

Maybe they dont know where Gitmo is

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...

I know this gitmo closing was an Obama publicity stunt . . . .

Is it not quite irresponsible to put forth the policy of closing Gitmo BEFORE "finding out" all of these details like no master files or stuff scattered anywhere or no plan on where to put these D-bags.

I thought Obama said that government needs to fixed and made to work again...blah blah blah. Wouldn't it be a good idea to settle all these details BEFORE making a sweeping policy that is next to impossible to implement? Sounds like something an effective government or organization would do. Lefties...please defend on how this is effective government (not to be confused with effective politics)....putting forth a mirage policy without taking all the facts into account.

Welcome to the most self-serving and overly political administration ever.

Ann Althouse said...

As for the accent (which isn't in the poll question because pollcode outlaws it), I use it because that's what I saw in the article (in English) that I was blogging when I first noticed the issue. Since then, I'm just trying to be consistent.

On a Mac, it's easy to do. option + e and then type the letter you want the accent on. I always do it for "café."

Ann Althouse said...

Please don't take my use of the accent to mean that when I say Spanish names I put on a Spanish accent. I think that's a very silly thing to do.

Michael H said...

we have to get all the files in one place

That will require Cabinet level action. All Cabinet officials will be involved in locating and reviewing the heretofore scattered files.

Obama has now created the Filing Cabinet.

It's all unicorns an seashells, so be one with The One Who Won. Don't think, be happy.

Lawgiver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawgiver said...

After promising quick solutions, one former senior official said, the Obama administration is now "backpedaling and trying to buy time" by blaming its predecessor.

Well duh. With a stroke of his pen he reopened federal funding for UN sponsored abortion programs and stem cell research. With a similar stroke he could close Gitmo overnight if he wanted to. Obviously he doesn't want to.

His reply? Obama puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you straight in the eye and says, "Look man, Bush screwed things up so badly we're just gonna have to take some time to sort through this mess."

Four more years of Bush bashing for every campaign promise he won't deliver on, four more years of spending more money than Bush ever dreamed of, four more years of blaming Bush for everything that goes wrong.

Hope and change baby.

HelenParr said...

AllenS & Ann Althouse: Thanks.

Per Jay Leno: Here's how to close Guantanamo faster--make it a bank.

TosaGuy said...


That seems to be the Obama strategery, but will it work with an American public that has the attention span of a gnat and the historical memory of a squirrel burying acorns. On a more positive note, Americans do not put up with excuses for very long. Everyone has heard the excuse at work regarding how the last guy messed everything up. It works for a bit, but soon the boss and fellow coworkers expect the new guy to get it done.

Lem said...

I know I should probably not be telling you all this.. but
Obama has the minds in the country devising a holodeck for the detainees.

The holodeck will allow the detainees and everybody to believe they have left Gitmo to live their lives in the "real world".

They wont be at Gitmo, but they wont the in the real world either.

Jason said...

"newly discovered circumstances?"

NONE of these circumstances are "newly discovered." They have all been common knowledge to everyone on the planet for years.

Except, apparently, libtards and the morons in the Obama camp.

Jeff said...

He will close it, but it's just a shell game. They will probably be moved to another country (rendition) and since we aren't holding them directly anymore, it's no longer news.

Corky Boyd said...

"Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said."

This is a red herring. Of course it's "scattered around." One of the prime reasons for military tribunals is much of the information on the detainees is classified at a very high level, from sensitive sources and requires an SCI clearance. It resides, not in Justice department files, where they could be rummaged through by non-cleared personnel, but in intelligence community files.

Obama has to learn to live with these facts. They are the reason the non-US soil Guantanamo location was selected (to avoid habeas corpus) and military tribunals by cleared military personnel the choice of adjudication.

The 8 Nazi saboteurs who landed on Long Island and Florida beaches in 1942 were tried that way. One can only imagine the damage done to our war effort, had the government been forced to disclose our crypto successes in an open civilian court.

BJM said...

Or Obama could transfer the Guantánamo jihadists to the general population at Attica; problem solved.

TosaGuy said...

I do not believe your liberal elite types did not know about all the little details. They do know them and will give Obama slack because deep down they really do not care about these D-bags in Gitmo. They were simply a handy club used to beat up on President Bush. These detainees will continue to rot somewhere -- which is fine by me.

Nothing will change except the veneer will be all shiny and new.

Suddenly all of the so-called idealists on this issue will become very very pragmatic...even justifying the use of a brand new method that encourages an informative dialog with detainees....one that uses the soothing feeling of liquid enveloping the body that is relaxing on a horizontal surface....think of it as an intense trip to the spa.

Big Mike said...

He'll close Guantanamo, of course. He said he would and he will. But the detainees will still be detained, because otherwise they might get caught killing American citizens and even the MSM won't be able to totally block that information from getting out.

Perhaps he'll put them in Marion? Well, maybe not since that prison is in Illinois. Perhaps Leavenworth. That'll teach Kansas to vote Republican!

In the 1952 elections the Korean War was even less popular than Iraq and Eisenhower pledged to "go to Korea." And he did go to Korea after he won, but apparently many voters pulled the lever for him thinking that he meant he would end the war when all he really did was go there.

You'll see a lot of stuff like that in this administration, I suspect. They'll outlaw torture except under certain circumstances, which turn out to be the same circumstances when the Bush administration did use torture. That sort of thing.

Big Mike said...

Oops. I meant "coercive interrogation methods" because of course a Democratic administration would never, ever use torture.

TosaGuy said...

Big Mike,

It is not coersive interrogation techniques. It is constructive dialog encouragement practices.

Know your vapid liberal buzzwords!

The Drill SGT said...

So, first, we have to get all the files in one place, folks, and that's going to take months, after which point we will begin to work on a plan for something to do with the detainees other than to keep them at Guantánamo.

This of course is total BS.

The One can develop a plan for closing Gitmo without knowing exactly what The One is going to do with every last inmate. For planning purposes, you create number of inmate "classes" and then come up with a method of dealing with each class.

while your planning is underway, you locate the files for each inmate and as you locate the files, you classify inmates into your notional "classes"

So instead of a hugely sequential process that seems designed to delay and would be seen that way by any rational judge, you break the process into 3 sections running in parallel:

1 Planning for how to handle each class.
2 Finding files
3. Adjudicating inmates whose files are complete, into the classes being defined

kynefski said...

No comprehensive files? Bush screwed it up!

Um, yeah, it would appear so.

By the way, am I supposed to be accusing you guys of treason for your Bush-hating lack of support for the President?

Actually, is it still called Bush-hating?

Sorry, I'm kinda new at this.

Tibore said...

TosaGuy is right. Guantanamo's detention camp will be closed... but the detainees will simply be held elsewhere. Thus the administration will accomplish the trick of making superficial action seem substantive, as well as managing to "criticize" the policies of the former administration while continuing them in another form.

Obama's not so stupid as to not realize the implications of letting many of these people out; not all of them are "suckers" turned in by social enemies looking for a buck; a great percentage of them were captured directly by the military. And there's no way he'll be able to miss that.

So, do the public act and gain praise from closing down the "affront" to "international law", but yet, keep the detainees sequestered elsewhere waiting for a differnt sort of trial. Symbolism means much to many of the critics of Guantanamo; they could care less about the ultimate fate of the detainees themselves.

Fred4Pres said...

If Obama falls it will be over him not being trusted by his allies...

In the middle of Evan Thomas' insidery campaign book, A Long Time Coming, there is a section on early conflict between John McCain and Barack Obama in the Senate, even before Obama was openly running for president. I thought this bit was interesting for more than one reason:

Obama further aliented McCain on the immigration issue. McCain took great political risks on immigration, defying the GOP faithful who wanted to build a wall across the Mexican border and arrest and detain illegal immigrants. Working with Ted Kennedy and a bipartisan group, McCain came up with compromise legislation to create a guest-worker program. Obama asked to join the group. The senators agreed to hang together to vote against amendments from both the right and the left. Some very conservative senators honored the agreement, voting against conservative amendments -- but Obama did not, voting in favor of a number of liberal amendments. After one meeting, Kennedy chewed Obama out for his fickleness. (Months later, asked by a colleague why he had endorsed Obama for president, Kennedy gave a one-word answer: "Caroline.")

Without reading too much into this anecdote, on immigration, at least, Barack Obama took care of his base and John McCain did not, and his base included Caroline Kennedy. She must indeed be a little bitter about now.


Sweet Princess Caroline, under the bus! The Kennedys are going to war! http://politicalwire.com/archives/2009/01/25/kennedy_family_furious_with_paterson.html

Tibore said...

"Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said."

I'm sorry, but my cynicism at the WaPo's characterization cannot help but manifest. Since when are such records centralized at such a high level? Is the White House supposed to micromanage to such a degree that they're "centrally keeping" records of concern to the interrogators echelons beneath the White House level of command?

I'm just rendered incredulous by the framing the WaPo chooses to impose on the story.

Fred4Pres said...

Sweet Princess Caroline

The Kennedys are going to war!

Fred4Pres said...

The Sweet Princess Caroline saga is not directly related to Gitmo, but it is illustrative of what Obama is facing. You cannot please all the people all the time, and Barack has a lot of IOUs out there. There will be a lot more of this than people realize.

Bill said...

Perhaps this will help:


Steven said...

A year will be plenty of time to open up an American-controlled prison camp in Afghanistan under nominal Afghani administration. That will allow us to "return" prisoners to Afghanistan, removing them from the jurisdiction of American courts. Oh, and we'll be able to have local Afghani personnel perform the harsh interrogation techniques barred to the CIA by Obama's executive order.

So, sure, as long as the courts don't get in the way, Obama will be able to close Guantánamo Bay.

Bob said...

GITMO will be closed in a year. Cameras will record this incredible event. The One will praised.

The prisoners will have been loaded onto a ship, a slow ship, for the long voyage to Afghanistan. Then "iceberg, dead ahead"...

RHSwan said...

My guess is the files are where they are needed. The prosecutor at Gitmo does not need to know prisoner Ima Badguy at Gitmo saw Joewill Blowyouup at the local terrorist support group. However, the intelligence folks do. Likewise, the intelligence folks do not need to know that Ima’s fingerprints were found on a bomb in Afghanistan since the guy has been caught already. The prosecutors would love to have that information. The only reason to have all the information in one place would be to review whether to keep the guy in prison or not. Since the Bush administration supposedly has already done that why would all the information be in one spot?
My guess is this is laying the groundwork for Gitmo being open longer than one year. The excuse will be they need longer to review all the information on the prisoners before they do something. And they will blame Bush for not keeping the information centralized and the media will agree.

David said...

The answer to the poll is "yes, and he will regret it." I voted yes because it was closest to the right answer.

The Drill SGT said...

Steven said...Oh, and we'll be able to have local Afghani personnel perform the harsh interrogation techniques barred to the CIA by Obama's executive order.

If Kipling was accurate on local culturally mores, it wil provide jobs for local women. say war widows.

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.

Bob said...The prisoners will have been loaded onto a ship, a slow ship, for the long voyage to Afghanistan. Then "iceberg, dead ahead"...

We used to tell a joke like that Nam.

First load the inmates on boats, then pave the place over. Lastly, goback and sink all the boats...

mcg said...

I voted yes for reasons similar to TheCrankyProfessor's. I think he's going to go for maximum political benefit and minimum practical change.

Bob said...

His Executive Orders on GITMO and Interrogation represent a roll of the dice. Should the US be attacked or one of those released be fingered to a large scale attack this will come back to haunt him. The American people are fickle about using all means necessary.

Less than half of current residents of GITMO are Afghans. So we aren't going to be able to send them all to the new "Kabul Hilton Secure". Look for us to pawn them off in ones and twos to dozens of countries and for media to just not ask questions.

Synova said...

Matt Damon:

”Look, the best line about torture I’ve heard came from [retired CIA officer turned war-on-terrorism critic] Milt Beardon,” Damon says. “He said, `If a guy knows where a dirty bomb is hidden that’s going to go off in a Marriott, put me in a room with him and I’ll find out. But don’t codify that. Just let me break the law.’

Does anyone think that liberals aren't going to be entirely happy to see Gitmo closed, knowing that some other prison will take it's place.

It's just the appearance, you know.

John Stodder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Stodder said...

Bush screwed it up!

I did a nostalgic thing today and read the Sunday LA Times, the dead tree version.

I was amazed at how many articles basically started from the premise that Bush screwed up X so badly, it will take 10 years or more for X to undo Bush's legacy.

It is amazing to think that one man, operating in an adversarial environment and constrained by laws can ruin an entire country in just eight years! But that's what the collective mind of the LA Times believes.

The "Bush screwed it up" alibi is firmly in place and will cover all disappointments associated with Obama and probably his successor as well, assuming that he's followed by another Democrat.

So, for that reason, no I don't think Guantánamo will be closed in a year, not in eight years, not in 16 years, and Bush will perpetually be blamed. Imagine, the chimp-like stupidity, not to have all the files in one place!

jdeeripper said...

Obama said he'll close Guantánamo, but will he?

Yes, but not until the facilities at Bagram, Afghanistan are ready.

Everything done at Gitmo can be done at Bagram without the bad symbolism.

And Bagram is closer to where the bad guys are. Saves on jet fuel.

TosaGuy said...

Michael chimed in on other posts today...why not this one?

Michael said...

Of course he'll close it.

Most of what you read here is the standard right wing blather one would expect from the idiots who can't accept the fact that Obama won and unlike Bush...is a man of integrity.

What's really disgusting is the fact that so many here support even having Gitmo, and that evidently includes "The Queen."

It's an embarrassment to our country and those of you who don't understand that are fools.

Michael said...

LTC Darrel Vandeveld - Member of the Reserve JAG Corps who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the lead prosecutor against a detainee, Mohammed Jawad, until he resigned last September.

Mr. Jawad had been in U.S. custody for approximately five years. It seemed reasonable to expect at the very least that after such a lengthy period of time, all available evidence would have been collected, catalogued, systemized, and evaluated thoroughly.

Instead, to the shock of my professional sensibilities, I discovered that the evidence, such as it was, remained scattered throughout an incomprehensible labyrinth of databases primarily under the control of CITF, or strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks vacated by prosecutors who had departed the Commissions for other assignments.

I further discovered that most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared or had been stored in locations that no one with any tenure at, or institutional knowledge of, the Commissions could identify with any degree of specificity or certainty.

The state of disarray was so extensive that I later learned, as described below, that crucial physical evidence and other documents relevant to both the prosecution and the defense had been tossed into a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten.


Michael said...

Calling Obama "The One" just makes you look small, dumb and unAmerican.

He won the election.

He's our President and deserves an opportunity to do the job.

AlanDownunder said...

Yes, he'll close it.

Yes, he'll release the ones who shouldn't have gone there in the first place.

Yes, he'll continue to incarcerate the ones who should have gone there in the first place. Pity he can't hope to successfully try them - on account of the tainted evidence against them.

What a mess he inherited. The bozos were as good at prosecuting war crimes as they were at listening to pre-9/11 warnings and at catching Bin Laden.

No, he won't be resettling Gitmo detainees in nice conservative neighbourhoods.

Joe said...

Of course GTMO should be closed; that's prime real estate. Why the hell are we putting alleged baddies in what should be the premiere vacation spot for government officials?

Gary said...

I have no doubt that Obama will close Gitmo. And that there is a good chance that the rest of the Cole bombers who murdered our son will be freed to join their buddies back in the Yemeni regime killing more innocent people. We sat and watched with broken hearts as all his killers were released. Two the went on to fight our soldiers in Iraq. Two more went right back to Al-Qaeda. The rest got jobs working in President Saleh's corupt government which our nation supports. The nightmare is starting all over again, but this time its here in America.
Remember the Cole!