It appears, according to a report in the New York Times, that President Barack Obama will not, after all, close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after all. Another Obama promise, the cynics will say, with an expiration date.
During the campaign, then candidate Obama touted the prison at Guantanamo as a blight on American honor, without actually making a convincing case as to why this was so. Nevertheless, upon assuming the Presidency, Barack Obama promised that the Guantanamo detention camp would be closed on January, 2010.
January, 2010, has come and gone and Guantanamo remains open.
As with many ill considered promises, the vow to close the Guantanamo prison ran very quickly into reality. That reality consisted of the problem of what to do with the terrorist prisoners, some of them the most dangerous people in the world.
There was no stomach, even in the Obama administration, of placing the imprisoned terrorists, held as enemy combatants with very limited civil rights, into the criminal justice system, with the full panoply of rights, with organizations such as the ACLU eager to provide them free legal help, and with the possibility that many cold blooded killers would be released on technicalities. Most if not all had been captured on the battlefield and were not read their rights. In some cases, evidence against the terrorists was obtained by methods that would not stand up in an American courtroom.
The Obama administration also had trouble finding another place to put the terrorists. President Obama’s left wing supporters maintained that the problem with not the location of Guantanamo, but its nature. A “Guantanamo North” would be unacceptable. Also very local communities were a new detention center would be located were adverse to playing host to a group of hardened terrorists, no matter how securely they were locked up. Conservatives pointed out the nightmare prospect of liberal judges letting terrorists free in American communities.
Instances of terrorist prisoners who were released to their home countries returning to terrorism also soured the appetite for closing Guantanamo. The attempted bombings in the air over Detroit and in Times Square put the final nail in the coffin of closing Guantanamo.
Administration officials and members of Congress, why still touting the goal of closing Guantanamo, now admit that the prison will not be closed before the end of Obama’s term. If Obama does not win reelection, that is the same as saying Guantanamo will never be closed. A clear case of a political promise not surviving contact with reality.
Sources: Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority, Charlie Savage, New York Times, January 25th, 2010
Terrorist Attack Over Detroit Averted on Christmas Day, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, December 26th, 2009
Car Bomb in Times Square Fails to Detonate, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, May 2nd, 2010