White House Back-Peddling on Gitmo Closure

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.

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