Friday is the anniversary of President Obama's executive order to close
the Guantanamo detention center within one year. Unfortunately
for the administration, on Friday the The New York Times' Charlie Savage
reports that 47 of the detainees at the still-open center are
considered "too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release."
Here's how liberal proponents of the Guantanamo closing as well as
conservative opponents are reacting to the inopportune coincidence.
- The Lesson "Just because a president orders something done," writes David Alexander at Reuters, "that doesn't make it happen."
- The Holdup "The biggest challenge," explains The New York Times' Jane Lorber, "is convincing lawmakers in both parties that transferring the
prisoners to the United States is worth the security--and
political--risks." Furthermore,while 40 prisoners have been relocated
outside the U.S. since Obama took office, the Christmas Day attempted
bombing halted all repatriations to Yemen, the home country of "nearly
half of the detainees remaining."
- The Caution ACLU executive director Anthony Romero declares, perhaps predictably, that the missed deadline must not "give in to a sense of inertia or inevitability" regarding the prison's continued operation. But nor does he think time the only consideration: "it is also just as important that when Guantánamo is finally closed, it is closed right," i.e. ending illegal indefinite detention as well. He worries over "the latest indications from Washington" on this.
- Don't Expect Quick Closure Now, warns John Bellinger, former legal adviser to Sec. Condoleeza Rice. "Politically gun-shy Democratic majorities are unlikely to vote to move the Guantanamo detainees into the United States during an election year, and may be unwilling to do so at all."
- We Shouldn't Close Anyway, says think tank president Clifford May. While Guantanamo may help terrorist recruitment, terrorist acts--such as the September 11th attack-- were perpetrated well before the detainment center. The prison is useful for national security.
- How Will it Close? The National Review's Daniel Foster dives into the Times report saying that "of the prison's roughly 200 detainees, about 40 will eventually be prosecuted and about 110 will be repatriated or transferred to other countries." His question isn't what happens to those in the tricky third category, but what happens to the other two groups: "Of those in the former category, which will be granted civilian trials and which trials by military commission? And of those in the latter category, about 30 are from Yemen, where the administration has halted Gitmo prisoner transfers in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt. Where will they go?"