Guantanamo Bay Lives On


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The bill also tightens restrictions on prisoner transfers from Gitmo to foreign countries. Such restrictions were likely animated by the Obama administration’s determination to repatriate several Yemeni inmates to their native country in January 2009, an idea also undone by reality:  the attempted bombing of Detroit-bound Northwest flight on December 25, by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was trained by al Qaeda operatives based in Yemen.

Attorney General Eric Holder claims such a bill could place unconstitutional limitations on the Executive Branch’s right to make decisions about where to conduct terrorist prosecutions.  Some conservative politicians agree, calling the bill “ill-considered.  In a Wall Street Journal editorial, former Justice Department lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey characterized the bill as “a step too far,” and that the “president is the chief federal law enforcement officer and prosecutor” and “(W)hether, when and where to bring a particular prosecution lies at the very core of his constitutional power.”

It is still within the president’s power to veto the bill. Yet that is highly unlikely for two reasons:  the comprehensive nature of the bill itself which goes far beyond the issue in terms of funding the Defense Department and the war effort; and the Obama administration’s announcement that they would be drafting an executive order calling for a regular review process for those detainees under indefinite detention.  48 of the 174 inmates remaining in the facility, considered “too dangerous to release,” fall into the indefinite detention category.

This bill also resolves earlier efforts made by the administration to house inmates in a facility in the state of Illinois. In 2009, the White House had approached the House Appropriations Committee, to see if they would be amenable to adding $200 million to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year in order upgrade Thomson Correctional Center, a nearly vacant maximum-security Illinois prison, to accommodate Gitmo inmates.  The move would have required the federal government to purchase the prison from the state.  The idea had little public support and the measure was subsequently dropped from the bill.  This latest bill makes it clear that such an idea remains a political non-starter.

So too does closing Guantanamo Bay any time soon.  No doubt such a reality is galling for many of the president’s supporters who, like the president himself, will have to come to grips with the idea that dealing with hard-core terrorists is substantially harder than they imagined.  One can only wonder if the same people who excoriated the Bush administration for keeping its “American gulag” open for business will hammer the Obama administration for backtracking on his vow during his inaugural speech to “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”  Mr. Obama claims he has no problem with the way the facility is being run–now. Whether such a “time stamp” refers to a contrast to the manner in which the Bush administration operated the facility, or the fact that the responsibilities of the presidency undercut the arrogance of cheap campaign rhetoric is anyone’s guess.

Either way one thing is certain:  for the overwhelming majority of Americans, a broken campaign promise beats the hell out of a terrorist attack perpetrated by a former Guantanamo Bay inmate.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.



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  • K. Bond

    King O is the biggest liar alive today. Everyday, every speech, every sentence is pure bunk, pure propaganda, more lies, more wishful thinking, and yet he will wakes up the very next day and does it all over again.

    What a disgrace he is to the office of the President of the United States of America! What a disgrace he is to the American Citizen – yes I said citizen, american people include illegals.

    When do we say enough is enough?

  • American_Flag

    King O is the biggest liar alive today. Everyday, every speech, every sentence is pure bunk, pure propaganda, more lies, more wishful thinking, and yet he will wakes up the very next day and does it all over again.

    What a disgrace he is to the office of the President of the United States of America! What a disgrace he is to the American Citizen – yes I said citizen, american people include illegals.

    When do we say enough is enough?

  • jrobinson

    The best part about this is how the Left comes smack up against reality. Bush used GITMO for several practical and strategic reasons… the Left ignored that, substituted their own idealisitic idiotic reasons and proceeded to beat Bush about the head with GITMO for 6 years. Now they own GITMO, they have no one else to blame, and reality, as they say, is a harsh mistress. They no longer have the luxury to ignore the facts and the reality.

    Now just imagine how much smoother, respectable, and dignified this whole process would have been if they'd been able to come to this conclusion say, 6 years ago?

  • skepticsam

    There might be a solution to Gitmo inmates. They should all be put a container and flown over to Pakistan in a C130. Open the back door and release them. They believe that they are martyrs and paradise awaits them if they die. Besides allah will save them. Praying five times a day for all their lives should do the trick. My humble opinion anyway.

    • ARay

      That would put the US government in the position of practicing Islam and a violation of the "separation of church and state".

  • BS77

    Gitmo is too nice for the terrorists. Anyone ever seen a prison in Iran or Turkey?? Gitmo is the Waldorf Astoria, by comparison

  • AREALLIFEEXPERIENCE

    All the pictures and comments about GTMO being a place of torture is ridiculous. They are terrorist. They deserve to be there and it is not wrong that we hold them there. The unfair treatment that an American would receive in their home country is by far nothing that they faced in GTMO. They are not covered with bags on their head nor do they get deprived of food, water or anything else that we as a normal human being have. How about our government open up to the public about how they treat our soldiers and what they endure while there. We dont support our troops enough but yet were concerned how terrorist are treated like celebrities. Great job AMERICA.