Archive for September, 2009

White House Back-Peddling on Gitmo Closure

September 26, 2009

As predicted by several of us following the Guantanamo situation, the White House is belatedly leaking that the original date for closing the detention facility will be missed.

Flush with victory, the newly inaugurated President Obama probably thought that a one-year announcement for closure gave his staff plenty of time to resolve issues that opponents of closure thought were rather overwhelming.

Now, with the self-imposed January 2010 deadline mere months away, excruciatingly little progress has been made in the administration’s pledge to involve other countries in closure, relocate detainees, or even to formulate a basic plan for relocation.

As I’ve noted here several times, the most bipartisan reaction Obama has received from Congress to date has been almost universal push-back on his plan to bring Gitmo detainees on to US soil.

Already administration officials are falling back on their default position for all setbacks: blame their predecessors. We are hearing leaks that “detainee files were a mess,” and that “policies by the Bush administration” alienated potential allies in solving the thorny issue.

What the Obama people ignore is that an overwhelming percentage of Americans do not want the detainees transferred here and are quite supportive of keeping Gitmo opened.

Citizens of Michigan, where Standish Max has been designated as a possible relocation site, feel that their wishes have been ignored and fear that the administration may present them with a fait accompli by ramming through a decision to place detainees in their back yard.

While permitting any number of groups hostile to Guantanamo to visit the facility, the administration declined a request by Michigan representative Pete Hockstra and a group from Standish to visit, raising speculation that they were afraid that a true report on the facility – noting how efficient, humane, and safe that it is – might further complicate their previous decision.


Closing Gitmo? Deadline Hard on BHO

September 21, 2009

When President Obama, awash in the glory of his election victory and inauguration, arbitrarily announced Guantanamo closure a year distant it probably seemed a no-brainer. It appeared to Obama and his staff, as soldiers say, “too easy.”

Many of his base, in fact, decried the self-imposed deadline as far too long to remove what they see as a blot on America’s image abroad and an affront to justice.

Now, in mid-September, the apparently easy task of Gitmo closure has transmogrified into a sword over his head.

Panels begun in early spring to sort out the individual detainee cases and methodology for processing them have begged for deadline extensions. Already it is too late to transform an existing site into something suitable for the detainee population.

White House announced short-listed locations in the US have generated community push-back at a bipartisan level completely unanticipated by a tone-deaf administration.

Ft Leavenworth, KS has been taken off the table, and outrage from the alternative site, Standish Max, a prison in Standish, MI, is mounting.

Insiders are already saying that while Guantanamo will eventually close, “it won’t be by January.”

How is the President – already assailed by massive public dissatisfaction with policies of taxation and health care likely to react to this latest setback?