Is Obama Backpedaling on Closing GITMO?

Monday, January 12, 2009

With just 8 days until President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in as America’s 44th president, and the road to this historic day already littered with a series of alarming missteps (Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Rick Warren and Tim Kaine), it appears that the president-elect is also losing his nerve to close the torture facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, also called GITMO.

In an interview on Sunday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Obama was repeatedly pressed on the issue of GITMO and his campaign promise to close the ghoulish, Kafkaesque prison.

“That’s a challenge. I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do.”

A challenge?

According to a Seton Hall Law report authorized by Professor Mark Denbeaux and attorney Joshua Denbeaux and compilled by statistics provided by the U.S. Defense Department, more than fifty-five percent (55%) of the 517 detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies. Furthermore, only 8% of the detainees were determined to be al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban. This means approximately 41 of the detainees at Guatananamo Bay were determined to have ties to al Qaeda.

What Mr. Obama can immediately do.

Move the 41 detainees with ties to al Qaeda to the U.S. Penitentiary at Big Sandy, located in Inez, Kentucky. This is a high security facility housing male inmates in a sparsely populated area of the state but is only 321 miles from Washington, DC. An easy one hour flight for an eventual trail. The remaining 476 detainees who have no ties to al Qaeda and who do not pose a threat to the U.S should be released and returned to their home country.

Once these steps are taken, there will no longer a compelling reason for Mr. Obama to not fulfill his campaign pledge of closing Guantanamo Bay and then return the real estate to Cuba. These steps would go a long way to help rebuild the U.S.’s tarnished image throughout the world.

Editors Note: According to two presidential transition team advisers, President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office, possibly on his first day, to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. However, the detention facility at the Navy base in Cuba will remain open for the foreseeable future.

This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights, News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Is Obama Backpedaling on Closing GITMO?

  1. Fran says:

    He also said giving the Gitmo “detainees” proper trials may result in charges against Bush & Cheney. This may be the avenue in which thy nail their asses on human rights abuses and violations of the Geneva Convention. Because as the truth is told, the people who authorized the torture & abuse will be held accountable.

  2. Prairiedog says:

    Two words: Executive Privilege.

    These two words are Bush’s wiggle clause. Cheney, I don’t think he has a leg to stand on.

    It all comes down to courage and leadership and how much of either or both Obama possesses to do what’s right go after the bad guys.

    The country will be watching.

  3. Aunt Peg says:

    Excellent piece, Christopher.

    I agree with your points 100%. Closing Guantanamo Bay isn’t rocket science. Obama said he would do it so he needs to be held accountable.

  4. DMason says:

    I watched Obama on ‘The Week’ and I came away impressed by how nimble Obama can be when he’s boxed in on an issue. Like closing GITMO. Despite Stephanopolous pressing him several time on the matter, Obama refused to commit. It’s too early to know what type of president Obama will be but one thing is certain: he’s a masterful politician.

  5. Walk on Socks says:

    I don’t see what is so damned challenging about closing a torture facility?

    Just do it. Move the bad guys to a Federal prison and shut the damned thing.

  6. libhomo says:

    Did the 2008 election matter at all?

  7. Rachel says:

    Now Team “O” says Obama will close Guantanamo within weeks of the swearing in. Why didn’t Obama just say this on ‘This Week?’ The game seems to change every day and it makes people nervous.

  8. Joe in Colorado says:

    Close it. No slithering and no backpedaling. Gitmo is a disgrace and a pox on the United States.

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