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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gitmo: Obama Forced To Rethink His 'Hasty' Decision?

Sometimes you read the news and find some interesting items that all seem to fit together like pieces of a puzzle to give you a startling picture and quite a few answers when you put them together.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a surprising concession in his daily press briefing with reporters, then tried to backtrack, but the wording is precise, so you can decide for yourself if his "explanation" fit the actual words.


"It was a mistake to set up something that became a rallying cry for enemies around the world and to hope for so long that we could simply continue to perpetuate the theory of keeping detainees there while the courts ruled otherwise," Gibbs responded.

"I don't doubt that the President--and I think he'll say this tomorrow--that we've made some hasty decisions that are now going to take some time to unwind. And closing Guantanamo Bay obviously is one of those decisions," he added.

Emphasis mine and seems to be clear enough.

Either Gibbs understood immediately how that sounded or the followup questions made it clear to him what he just admitted, because when asked for clarification by a reporter who seems to have tried to help lead his way to backtracking, he changed his answer.

But later in the briefing Gibbs was asked a follow up question on what looked like a startling admission. Gibbs said that he meant that the "hasty decisions" were made by the previous administration.

"And you said hasty," a reporter asked, “you talked about hasty decisions tomorrow, that it's going to take some time to unwind. Are you talking about the President's hasty decisions or the previous administration's hasty decision as it regards Guantanamo?”

"No, no, no, I'm sorry," Gibbs said. "My boss might want to know the answer to that. No, no, I'm discussing decisions that were made in the previous administration."

The reporter asked again, “You were not referring to the executive order?”

“No, no, no,” Gibbs said.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, look back to the portion of his comment I put in bold, where it says "And closing Guantanamo Bay obviously is one of those decisions."

Barack Obama signed an order on his second day in office, determining to close Guantanamo Bay and Gibbs specifically referred to closing it.... you do the math.

Marc Ambinder gets right to the heart of the issue and one specific point he brings up leads to the next piece of the puzzle.

But the President, and his senior advisers, bear at least some responsibility for the grand gesture of promising to shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year well before the administration had begun to review the casebooks and intelligence reports about the 240 odd detainees in United States custody. The shrewdness of Obama's executive order on day two cannot be denied, nor can its targeted audience - European and Arab governments, and the broader world - be ignored in the current debate. Gitmo was a "rallying cry" for Al Qaeda - that line's for public consumption - and for anti-Americanism abroad, for European smugness, for exasperation with America by Moslems everywhere.

That is it in a nutshell.

Obama made campaign promises to his supporters without the intelligence reports or facts and he needed to appease them after his latest decisions which have riled them up against him, about Military commissions, his about face on releasing detainee photos, his DOJ arguments in court and a number of other issues that has brought about severe criticism from the far far left.

One has to wonder if the next article doesn't show a clear example of the type of information he didn't have time to go over before deciding to appease his supporters and Anti-Americanism abroad, Europeans and Muslims.

Headline from the New York Times: "1 in 7 Freed Detainees Rejoins Fight, Report Finds."

An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.

The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January. Past Pentagon reports on Guantánamo recidivism have been met with skepticism from civil liberties groups and criticized for their lack of detail.

The Pentagon promised in January that the latest report would be released soon, but Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week that the findings were still “under review.”

Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the report was being held up by Defense Department employees fearful of upsetting the White House, at a time when even Congressional Democrats have begun to show misgivings over Mr. Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo.

Then we have, lower in that article, this piece of news:

To relocate the 240 prisoners now at Guantánamo Bay, administration officials have said the plan will ultimately rely on some combination of sending some overseas for release, transferring others to the custody of foreign governments, and moving the rest to facilities in the United States, either for military or civilian trials or, in some cases, perhaps, to be held without charges.

Again, emphasis mine.

Obama needs to think again, because even the Democrats in Congress and the Senate are against bringing those detainees anywhere within the United States, as evidenced by Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader of the U.S. Senate, who stated just the other day that those prisoners would not be brought to the United States.


Reid also mangled his party's position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for relocating its prisoners.

But Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money before Congress approves it. "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," he said.

No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing them.

"Part of what we don't want is them be put in prisons in the United States," Reid clarified but digging himself into a bigger hole by departing significantly from some of his colleagues and administration officials. "We don't want them around the United States."

Did the administration put Democrats in an awkward position, asking for the money before setting out how it would be spent?

"Not at all," said Reid.

"Yes," his deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin replied to the same question.

In case anyone thinks Reid mispoke or wants to claim that he did, his office even issued a clarifying statement later:

“President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Secretary Colin Powell, President Obama and I all agree – Guantanamo must be closed. President Obama’s approach is a responsible one. He has convened a task force of military and security experts who will recommend how to best keep Americans safe and bring to justice those who seek to do us harm. I am confident that the experts’ plan will be thoughtful and comprehensive, and I look forward to reviewing it when it is released this summer.

“The amendment Chairman Inouye has offered today recognizes that it would be premature for Congress to act before the Administration proposes its plan. I support his amendment. On two important points, however, we do not need to wait for any instruction – and there should be no misunderstanding. Let me be clear: Democrats will not move to close Guantanamo without a responsible plan in place to ensure Americans’ safety. And we will never allow a terrorist to be released into the United States.

“This amendment is as clear as day. It explicitly bars using the funds in this bill to ‘transfer, release or incarcerate’ any of the Guantanamo detainees in the United States. When the Administration closes Guantanamo, we will ensure it does so the right way.”

Evidently that Pentagon report doesn't bode well for Obama's "hasty" decision to close Gitmo, then asking for the money to do so without any comprehensive plan in place for doing it.

A Defense Department official said there was little will at the Pentagon to release the report because it had become politically radioactive under Mr. Obama.

“If we hold it, then everybody claims it’s political and you’re protecting the Obama administration,” said the official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. “And if we let it go, then everybody says you’re undermining Obama.”

The most startling of articles though, again in a New York Times is one reporting that Obama is considering a “preventive detention” system.

The reason this is startling is because of the rhetoric Obama continually engaged in during his campaign bashing Bush consistently then, while taking up those same positions now that the reality has bitten him in the ass.

The system would "establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried."

“He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.”

Making campaign promises without the detailed information is one thing, but signing executive orders for the sake of sheer "politics" on day two in office when he could have waited to actually look at the reports and make informed decisions, is just sloppy and shows a lack of in depth thinking about the consequences of his actions.

[Update] Another good reason to keep those Gitmo detainees out of America, comes from a tidbit in today's news about the foiled terror plot where four men were arrested last night......

The suspects - three U.S.-born citizens and one Haitian immigrant - at least three of whom were said to be jailhouse converts to Islam

Full story and links here.