Another campaign promise will not be kept. During the election, then Illinois Senator Barack Obama repeatedly vowed that he would close the Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) terrorist detention center within his first year as president. He claimed the facility hurt national security, because he was convinced it was used for terrorist recruitment. Well, Obama’s inaugural year in office has passed, and this week news came out that the President’s plans to close Gitmo might never come to fruition.
The New York Times reported yesterday that The House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved legislation prohibiting the creation of a detention center in the United States. The Obama administration had previously requested $350 million dollars to turn a northwest Illinois prison in the town of Thompson into a detention center for terrorists. The midwest state’s Governor Quinn was happy to do the deal with the federal government. But now the governor admits the deal is “less likely” to happen.
Late Wednesday the House committee approved a defense budget for 2011 that bans any money be spent for renovating or building detention centers for Gitmo detainees. The committee says they want
“a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs, and risks associated with utilizing such a facility. No such plan has been presented to date. The bill prohibits the use of any funds for this purpose.”
Not only does such a plan not currently exist, but I doubt that the President will tackle such an undertaking before the 2012 elections. Even if he is able to convince the House panel to change their minds, the earliest money could be approved for a detention center would be 2012. I have difficulty believing that the President would want to start moving terrorists into our country right when it is time for Americans to decide if they want another 4 years of Obama policies.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was asked if the Gitmo issue is being pushed back to avoid election year problems in 2010. Durbin gave a surprisingly honest answer:
” That’s a pretty cynical view…and very accurate.” – Dick Durbin
If Democrats don’t want to mess with the issue in 2010, they aren’t going to want to mess with it in 2012 either. With all the negative press President Bush got for Guantanamo Bay, it appears President Obama will be forced to keep the status quo in his first term. In 2012 voters will have a chance to vote if they want Obama to try again on shipping terrorists into their own zip codes.