Obama Plans to Close Guantanamo

 

Fulfilling one of his last campaign promises, Obama has sent Congress his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison:

Unveiling the plan from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, the president made clear his frustration at how what was once a bipartisan goal shared by both his predecessor, President George W. Bush, and his 2008 Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, had become a partisan dispute. He urged Congress to give his plan a “fair hearing,” saying the prison wasted money, raised tensions with allies and fueled anti-American sentiments abroad.

“I am very cleareyed about the hurdles to finally closing Guantánamo — the politics of this are tough,” Mr. Obama said during a 17-minute statement. He added: “I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is. And if, as a nation, we don’t deal with this now, when will we deal with it?”

Congress required Mr. Obama to present a plan as part of the most recent defense authorization bill, and its basic approach echoed the strategy the administration has already been pursuing for seven years. It centers on bringing between 30 and 60 detainees who are deemed too dangerous to release to a prison on domestic soil, while transferring the remaining 91 detainees to other countries.

The plan offered few specifics, and did not identify any of the potential replacement facilities. Pentagon officials visited military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Charleston, S.C., as well as several civilian prisons in Colorado — where many terrorists are already held in the “supermax” wing of the complex at Florence — in preparing the study.

Do you think Obama’s plan has any chance of getting through a GOP-controlled Congress? And, if not, how do you think the President will respond?

There are 58 comments.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    You (Tom, and others) just have to ask yourself, out of all the issues facing this country and the world right now, why GITMO? Why?

    The idea that it’s about saving money is laughable. Please.

    To restore our reputation among nations? I seriously doubt a single foreign government is all that miffed about a hundred some terrorist jihadists locked up on a tropical island guarded by US Marines. Although, some of those ISIS fighters might be jealous of how those guys are living, so there’s that.

    Nor is it about “justice” for these jihadists. As you say, most of them should have been executed after we’d extracted any useful information they could provide.

    No, I think Dinesh D’souza has it right. This is our anti-colonialist, anti-American, anti-white Christian president seeing things from our enemy’s perspective… again. The Cuban government calls GITMO by the SJW’s favored term, “occupied territory.” He wants to give it back.

    This is moral preening at its most ridiculous — and insufferable.

    And besides that our president hates everything I love, I’m taking this one personally if these bastards get moved to Colorado.

    • #31
  2. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Western Chauvinist:You (Tom, and others) just have to ask yourself, out of all the issues facing this country and the world right now, why GITMO? Why?

    Because I do not believe a just nation of laws needs to rely on a legal asterisk to incarcerate prisoners while prosecuting a war against the scum of the Earth. I think it’s unsightly and I think it’s dangerous.

    Unless we give GITMO back — which we shouldn’t — believe me, it’s only a matter of time before the feds start whisking American citizens there. It’s begging for abuse and I’m rather shocked it hasn’t been used so already.

    • #32
  3. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Frozen Chosen:From what I’ve read about Gitmo, it’s a prisoner’s paradise, other than the confinement. How can Obama say they would be better off in one of the US based prisons?

    The MINUTE these guys are on US soil, expect their lawyers to file petitions for their release due to violation of due process.  Some of them have been held for 14 years without a trial.

    AND, I lay a big chunk of this at Bush’s feet.  IMMEDIATELY following the opening of Guantanamo, these prisoners should have faced military courts, been tried, convicted and sentenced to death as terrorists and Illegal Combatants.  In the days following 9/11 that would have been non controversial.  Letting it fester for years has led to this.

    • #33
  4. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Kozak:The MINUTE these guys are on US soil, expect their lawyers to file petitions for their release due to violation of due process. Some of them have been held for 14 years without a trial.

    Again, do you think Federal Marshals are going to simply waltz into a US military base and escort them off?

    • #34
  5. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Again, do you think Federal Marshals are going to simply waltz into a US military base and escort them off?

    Do you expect the military to defy a court order?

    Do you want the military to defy a court order?

    • #35
  6. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Those who we are provably guilty under the lax standards of evidence in such things should be promptly executed; those who we can’t find guilty under even those circumstances we should just own up to and let go.

    I want to come back to this. Are you saying that when America captures enemy combatants on a battlefield, we should either execute them or release them?

    I would not support this as official US Policy.  It would certainly create a very bad precedent for treatment of captured US soldiers.

    • #36
  7. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    A-Squared:Do you expect the military to defy a court order?

    I’d be curious what court would have jurisdiction over such a matter.

    • #37
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Because I do not believe a just nation of laws needs to rely on a legal asterisk to incarcerate prisoners while prosecuting a war against the scum of the Earth. I think it’s unsightly and I think it’s dangerous.

    Based on what? Is it the location where they’re imprisoned or the fact they’re imprisoned rather than executed? What makes it unsightly?

    And what makes it dangerous? I really don’t get that at all.

    • #38
  9. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I’d be curious what court would have jurisdiction over such a matter.

    Anyone on US soil has access to the US court system.  Once the Gitmo prisoners touch US soil, they will have access to a hearing in civilian court.  They can petition the court for anything they want and get a hearing, and they can shop for the right jurisdiction to ensure they get a left-leaning judge that will be inclined to rule in their favor.

    And the Gitmo prisoners have a very large numbers of attorneys already representing them that will file a motion as soon as their feet touch US soil.

    • #39
  10. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    A-Squared:

    As I understand it, the standard of evidence is not substantially lower, the military commission simply has a lower standard for burden of proof and allows classified evidence.

    I believe it’s both.

    The way the Wikipedia entry is written, the only substantive evidentiary difference is

    It may be possible for the commission to consider evidence that was extracted through coercive interrogation techniques before passage of the Detainee Treatment Act. But, legally, the commission is restricted from considering any evidence extracted by torture, as defined by the Department of Defense in 2006.

    It does say that the accused is not entitled to hear all the evidence, but I view that as a subset of being allowed to consider classified intelligence.

    Another article I found does say that hearsay is permissible in the tribunal if the judge considers it reliable and there is no ban on evidence from illegal searches.

    • #40
  11. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Kozak:The MINUTE these guys are on US soil, expect their lawyers to file petitions for their release due to violation of due process. Some of them have been held for 14 years without a trial.

    Again, do you think Federal Marshals are going to simply waltz into a US military base and escort them off?

    Uh, with a court order and instructions from the DOJ. Yeah I do.

    • #41
  12. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Western Chauvinist:Based on what? Is it the location where they’re imprisoned or the fact they’re imprisoned rather than executed? What makes it unsightly?

    I find the idea of having to hide prisoners from our own legal system to be unsightly. I’m at a loss as to why others don’t.

    Western Chauvinist:

    And what makes it dangerous? I really don’t get that at all.

    Because, as I said, it’s only a matter of time before it occurs to someone in power that it might be easier to ship non-terrorists off there. I don’t want to give them that opportunity.

    • #42
  13. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I find the idea of having to hide prisoners from our own legal system to be unsightly. I’m at a loss as to why others don’t.

    As I said, I think we should declare war and treat them as PoWs.

    I don’t think the fact we haven’t declared war limits our options in dealing with enemy combatants to either executing them or releasing them.  That is where we disagree.

    • #43
  14. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    A-Squared:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    A-Squared:

    As I understand it, the standard of evidence is not substantially lower, the military commission simply has a lower standard for burden of proof and allows classified evidence.

    I believe it’s both.

    The way the Wikipedia entry is written, the only substantive evidentiary difference is

    It may be possible for the commission to consider evidence that was extracted through coercive interrogation techniques before passage of the Detainee Treatment Act. But, legally, the commission is restricted from considering any evidence extracted by torture, as defined by the Department of Defense in 2006.

    It does say that the accused is not entitled to hear all the evidence, but I view that as a subset of being allowed to consider classified intelligence.

    Another article I found does say that hearsay is permissible in the tribunal if the judge considers it reliable and there is no ban on evidence from illegal searches.

    Those strike me as pretty substantial.

    • #44
  15. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    A-Squared:Anyone on US soil has access to the US court system. Once the Gitmo prisoners touch US soil, they will have access to a hearing in civilian court. They can petition the court for anything they want and get a hearing, and they can shop for the right jurisdiction to ensure they get a left-leaning judge that will be inclined to rule in their favor.

    Given that SCOTUS deemed their detention constitutional — provided that they’re given some form of due process — color me extremely skeptical.

    • #45
  16. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Those strike me as pretty substantial.

    I don’t entirely disagree, but it doesn’t strike me as excessively permissive either.  I think it strikes the appropriate balance given the realities of the battlefield.

    • #46
  17. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    A-Squared:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Those strike me as pretty substantial.

    I don’t entirely disagree, but it doesn’t strike me as excessively permissive either. I think it strikes the appropriate balance given the realities of the battlefield.

    Well, we’re agreed on that.

    And yes, I agree with your earlier point that much of this would have been avoided by a genuine declaration of war.

    • #47
  18. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Given that SCOTUS deemed their detention constitutional — provided that they’re given some form of due process — color me extremely skeptical.

    What about Boumediene v. Bush

    On June 12, 2008, Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion for the 5–4 majority, holding that the prisoners had a right to the habeas corpus under the United States Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was an unconstitutional suspension of that right.

    • #48
  19. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Tom, with our judicial system as presently constituted it is foolish to think that all will be well if we bring them into the country. They would have been shot in WWII and Kevin Williamson makes the point that this is a serious enough question — this madness of giving up God’s gift to us of Gitmo — that people on your side should consider that no matter how horrible things are in our country because of this we must acknowledge that it is in our right to do far worse and use capital punishment.

    Now is not the time to pore over things on our to-do list of creating a perfect country. We have to prioritize our action items and this ain’t high on the list.

    • #49
  20. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    A-Squared:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Given that SCOTUS deemed their detention constitutional — provided that they’re given some form of due process — color me extremely skeptical.

    What about Boumediene v. Bush

    On June 12, 2008, Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion for the 5–4 majority, holding that the prisoners had a right to the habeas corpus under the United States Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was an unconstitutional suspension of that right.

    Yes, and the commissions were amended in response and there were a number of legal maneuvers that have further solidified their detention.

    BTW, I’m a little embarrassed at how weak my facts are on this. Appreciate the push-back.

    • #50
  21. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Yes, and the commissions were amended in response and there were a number of legal maneuvers that have further solidified their detention.

    BTW, I’m a little embarrassed at how weak my facts are on this. Appreciate the push-back.

    I did read the “Aftermath” section, but I did not take away much comfort that the prisoners would be successfully detained if they set foot on US soil. But I tell you what, if Obama is willing to build a facility on the White House lawn to house some of the most violent terrorists in the world, I think he should be allowed to do so.

    I haven’t followed the legal back and forth of the tribunals much either, so it’s been informative for me too.

    I still think of them as PoWs and I’m fine with them staying at Gitmo until the war is over.  Releasing the bulk of them while we are still fighting the war seems like a really bad idea (but being a really bad idea seems to be precisely why Obama is endorsing it).

    • #51
  22. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about this:

    Imagine Gitmo did not exist. What would we do then? Then, do that.

    • #52
  23. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about this:

    Imagine Gitmo did not exist. What would we do then? Then, do that.

    If I were in charge, I would build one of those off-shore oil rigs as a prison to hold these guys.

    I may have gotten that idea from a Stallone movie or an episode of The Blacklist.

    But Gitmo is better and cheaper.

    • #53
  24. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about this:

    Imagine Gitmo did not exist. What would we do then? Then, do that.

    First, I want to thank you for engaging on this thread, Tom. You’re one of the standouts among the contributors this way — a real mensch.

    But (gird your loins), I reject the premise outright. This is a left wing narrative that Gitmo is somehow a stain on the national soul, or an indictment of our justice system.

    Unfortunately, I’m on the run and will have to return later for a more thorough rebuttal of the notion. But, let me start by pointing out there are costs and benefits associated with every action and inaction.

    Some people worry about CO2 emissions and sea rise.

    Some people worry about being forced to participate in same-sex celebrations through their businesses, or whether their daughter is going to end up showering next to a biological male who thinks he’s a female at the local Y.

    Your comment seems to suggest you’re worried about Gitmo being used to incarcerate American political prisoners some day.

    I dunno, but that strikes me as… um… a less immediate concern. If you take my meaning.

    • #54
  25. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:And for clarity’s sake, it’s also shameful that we haven’t finished the military commissions for these scum. Those who we are provably guilty under the lax standards of evidence in such things should be promptly executed; those who we can’t find guilty under even those circumstances we should just own up to and let go. I expect the outcome to be weighed heavily toward the former, and good riddance.

    All of this should have been completed years ago.

    really, well I’d say that no Democratic President wants the death of the folks in Gitmo attached to his legacy–even though they may be terrorists and deserve a firing squad.

    So BHO may be waiting out the clock and leaving the Gitmo to someone else to manage, by clearing it with military commissions and sentences, or simply closing it down.

    • #55
  26. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Bringing terrorists onto our soil makes our soil the center of whatever crazy thing their compadres want to do to get them out.

    I notice, no one has tried to get to Gitmo to break them out.

    My prediction is that if Gitmo is closed, and any prisoners remain, then the come to the US, then not long after there will be an incident surrounding those individuals.

    • #56
  27. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Jules PA:

    My prediction is that if Gitmo is closed, and any prisoners remain, then the come to the US, then not long after there will be an incident surrounding those individuals.

    There are multiple al Qadeda Jihadis imprisoned at ADX Florence. There have been no prison breaks, nor attempts at prison breaks from there.

    (Note, I am not advocating using a civilian facility; I am merely pointing out that we house multiple high-profile Jihadis state-side, and that this concern has not been borne out).

    I have full confidence that our military could provide even tougher security than ADX.

    • #57
  28. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about this:

    Imagine Gitmo did not exist. What would we do then? Then, do that.

    We would search all over and — if we found any thing close to God’s gift to America like Gitmo — we would choose that.

    But, here’s the beauty of gifts like this from God: we actually already have one.

    • #58
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