Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guantanamo then and now

"Guantanamo Bay, for most people is a lightning rod for everything that's wrong with the United States," Silliman says. "I'm not sure Obama would be able to back away from his campaign pledge."

November 2008 - Barack Obama will move swiftly to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he takes office, his aides said yesterday, in a clear and early sign of how determined he is to break with President Bush. (these are enemies of the USA not enemies of Bush)

Mr Obama is planning to ship dozens of terrorist suspects from the camp to face criminal trial in the US. (not going to happen) It is a controversial move but one that demonstrates how abruptly he plans to change Washington in terms of policy, personnel and tone the moment he enters the Oval Office.

Mr Obama has said that he wants to hit the ground running, and, already, details of his ambitious agenda are becoming clear as he seeks to turn his back on the Bush era. He has vowed to start removing combat troops from Iraq immediately, although in recent weeks he has become more opaque about the speed of withdrawal.

January 2009 - In his first full day as president, he spent half an hour at the Oval Office from 8.35am, after just a few hours' sleep following a night on the town attending inaugural balls.

After a prayer service at the national cathedral that signaled the formal end of his inauguration, he immediately set to work, telephoning four Middle Eastern leaders and so signaling what a strong priority the region would be. (Sleep deprivation not good for policy making)

He also drafted an order to close the Guantánamo prison within a year and summoned his economic team and war council to move ahead with plans for rescuing the economy and withdrawing from Iraq.

This is now - Long-awaited US moves to close the controversial detention center for "war on terror" suspects at Guantanamo Bay will run into an array of complex procedural and legal pitfalls, analysts and observers say.(They should have thought of that while they were making false promises)

About 245 -280 (
depending who you beleive) prisoners are still held at the jail housed at a US naval base in southern Cuba, which has been a rallying point for anti-American sentiment around the world for the last eight years.

Vice President Joseph Biden Sunday tried to ease American concerns, saying none of the prisoners would be released into the United States, unless they had legal residency.

"We're going one prisoner at a time. We're trying to figure out exactly what we inherited," he added, asking people to give the administration time to resolve outstanding questions.

Obama's Guantanamo decree this week lays out "a process and an aspiration," but it carefully "keeps all options on the table and gives the new administration wide latitude to make policy as it learns over the coming year exactly whom it is dealing with," said Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes.

Civil liberties and human rights associations, along with a number of legal groups, have argued that holding someone indefinitely without charge cannot be unjustified.

"Enemy combatants need to be held off the battlefield as long as they are a threat. The worse thing we could do is criminalize this war," he said.

"We're not fighting a bunch of criminals, we are fighting warriors committed to our destruction and we need to get this right."

One would think that Obama has bigger problems on his plate than to release his enemies. Surely he can’t believe that the ex-detainees are going to forgive the USA. They will believe that they have been released by inshalla. That will only make them more determined to carry out the jihad.

Obama had better come back to earth and start being realistic about his approach to terrorism. This thing is going to turn around and bite him in the ass. No good deed goes unpunished. If it is in the interest of national security not to release these terrorists, all it will take is one bomb planted in the US from the supporters of the “Keep Guantanamo open" movement. That would be an unfortunate policy changing shock tactic.

Alternatively he might be afraid of an attack on the US and with his promise of freedom for his enemies, he is delaying the inevitable. He has already changed the closing status of Guantanamo from immediate to one year. To know your enemy is to think like your enemy, be afraid, be very, very afraid.

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