Obama Says Guantanamo Should be Closed. Again.
During his press conference this morning, President Obama reiterated that he thinks Gitmo should be closed:
I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo. I think–well, you know, I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.
Now Congress determined that they would not let us close it and despite the fact that there are a number of the folks who are currently in Guantanamo who the courts have said could be returned to their country of origin or potentially a third country.
I’m going to go back at this. I’ve asked my team to review everything that’s currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I’m going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interest of the American people.”
Indeed, President Obama did campaign on closing Gitmo. In fact, during his first week in office, President Obama issued three executive orders to close Gitmo, as Joy-Ann Reid points out in a post that everyone should read immediately:
President Obama reiterated in his press conference today that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is a terrible idea, counterproductive to U.S. national security, and should be closed. He also said that he will continue to pursue doing so. That prompted the now familiar chorus of liberal Obama critics to denounce the president for “failing to keep his promise to close Gitmo.” As if it’s that simple.
Two days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama signed three executive orders, the first of which called for the closure within one year of the George W. Bush-created prison at Guantanamo Bay.
What are those executive orders? Well … 13491 orders detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be treated according to the Geneva Conventions and assures that the U.S. abides by international law. 13492 orders Gitmo closed. And E.O. 13493 creates a task force headed by Eric Holder to deal with the disposition of Gitmo detainees. The cumulative effect of these three executive orders would have been to close Gitmo and move the detainees elsewhere, either by trying them, deporting them, or incarcerating them somewhere—possibly in the U.S. None of that happened, because of that Senate vote . . . . which by the way was 94 to 0.
Undoubtedly, there is room for criticism here. Benjamin Wittes of LawfareBlog, for example, points out that President Obama has imposed a moratorium on repatriating detainees to Yemen. In addition, Adam Serwer of Mother Jones points out that President Obama should resume transferring detainees to end the ongoing hunger strike. (Although Serwer admits that “Congress has done everything it can short of making transfers illegal to prevent the administration from sending Gitmo detainees elsewhere.”)
The point is this: President Obama’s staunchest and most deranged critics like to ignore pesky facts about President Obama’s efforts four years ago to close Gitmo as they fall over themselves to declare President Obama History’s Greatest Monster™ for failing to close Gitmo in the face of nearly unanimous opposition from Congress.
[via The Reid Report]
Imani Gandy (ABL)
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