American Elephants

Obama Doesn’t Have a Solid Plan for Gitmo Detainees, And Congress Has Lost Interest! by The Elephant's Child

Congress has  lost interest in closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, according to Roll Call. The Guantanamo Review Task Force report calls for transferring 126 detainees to their home countries or to a third country, prosecuting 36 in federal court or a military commission and holding 48 indefinitely under the laws of war.

“A House Democrat who previously helped lead the charge for closing the facility…said he was surprised by his and other lawmakers’ lack of attention to the issue given how much weight liberals threw behind trying to close the prison facility last year. “We were all worked up and signing letters and all kinds of stuff,” he said,” Roll Call states.

Back in the early days of the Obama administration, a former Bush administration official on background said that the Obama Team thought that everybody — or most people at Guantanamo — were innocent and shouldn’t be there.  The Bush administration was not working very hard to resolve those issues and the issues were fairly easy to resolve once adults who were really committed to doing something about it were in charge.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who supports keeping the prison open, said the issue remains “off the radar screen” because the reality is that Congress ultimately lacks the will to close the facility.

There is “simply not support from a majority of Members in either house to close Guantánamo and to move the detainees to any place in the U.S., including Thomson,” he said. “Guantánamo today meets all the standards and well beyond of a facility to hold detainees.”

Aziz Abdul Naji, an Algerian who had been held at Guantanamo for more than eight years, had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to remain at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. He claimed that he would be tortured or killed in Algeria, either by the government or by terrorist groups who might try to recruit him.

The justices, late Friday, declined to hear Naji’s appeal, and the Defense Department announced on Monday that he had been repatriated. The court ruled earlier that another Algerian detainee could be returned to Algeria.  This effectively ends the efforts  of all six Algerian detainees at Gitmo to remain there rather than be sent home.  A Syrian who had been held at Guantanamo for eight years, Abd-al-Nisr Mohammed Khantumani, has been transferred to the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa.

Algeria has provided diplomatic assurances that Naji would not be mistreated, and administration officials say that other detainees have been returned without incident. Administration officials said they take their human rights responsibilities seriously, and they will examine each detainee case seriously.

Guantanamo Bay has been a model prison where detainees are treated better than the guards who man the facility. A significant number of Gitmo graduates have returned to active warfare against American troops.  This includes detainees released by both administrations.  As Ed Morrissey says:

Closing Gitmo solves no problems, and it creates a number of others.  The chief issue is the actual adjudication method for the remaining detainees, not the geographical location of their housing.  Proponents of closing Gitmo wanted to use a transfer to the US as a way to argue that the cases should be heard in federal court instead of the military commissions repeatedly authorized by Congress.  There is no other acute issue requiring an evacuation of the facility, and the issue of jurisdiction can be handled without the costs and risks of transfers.

The object of the facility at Guantanamo has always been to keep prisoners taken on the battlefield from returning to the fight.  Some, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are to be tried for crimes against Americans.  The Obama administration has only gradually begun to understand that those held at Gitmo are extremely dangerous, rather than innocent victims.  It is the same mindset that refuses to use the words Islamic terrorism.

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