Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Under Pressure From All Sides, President Obama Delays Guantanamo Closure

Posted in U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy by Dan on January 7, 2010

Under pressure from the fallout of last month’s attempted terrorist attack- and the media storm that is pouring more gasoline onto an otherwise destructive fire- President Barack Obama has decided to renege on his promise to release the remaining detainees in the Guantanamo Bay Prison to Yemen.

Let’s ask the question that is on everybody’s mind; is this the right move for the Obama White House?

If you want my humble opinion, I truly believe that the President is moving in the right direction.  Do not misunderstand me; blocking the release of terror suspects from the Guantanamo prison will unleash an enormous amount of criticism from liberal Democrats in Congress.  When you consider the President’s pledge to shut down the facility in his first year- and that year has already passed- the controversy over his decision will inevitably multiply within Congress like a cancerous disease.

But politics aside, the President really does not have any other choice.  Given the American security tailspin that has occurred over the past month, allowing detainees to travel back to their homes in the Middle East would only dig the President into a bottomless pit.  For a world leader already combating the reputation as being weak on national-security issues, it is predictable that Mr. Obama would protect himself from any further claims of appeasement.

After all, it is not like the President is in the wrong here.  Currently, half of the prison’s detainees are Yemeni.  Considering that Yemen is now Washington’s primary focal point in the War on Terrorism, the most logical policy that the President can endorse would be to hold-off the Gitmo shut-down.

I understand that Guantanamo is a sensitive subject in the United States.  I also understand that the prison is a huge recruitment tool for Islamic extremism; ever since its creation, the prison has had an uncanny ability in damaging America’s relations with the Muslim world.

But with this being said, it would be politically-suicidal at this point in time to close the Guantanamo facility as originally scheduled.  Yes, Americans may find it hard to accept this, but there are a number of cases involving released Guantanamo suspects rejoining the Islamic jihadist movement.  In fact, I would not be surprised if the harsh interrogation techniques that terrorists have had to endure over the past nine years have increased their hostility to the United States.  If only Gitmo was used as a rehabilitation center from the get-go; then we may not be talking about ex-detainees going straight back to where they came from.

President Obama simply has no other alternative.  If the President closes the facility, there is no question that he would be lambasted by the press and Congressional Republicans about his soft-stance on terrorism (despite the fact that Obama has actually ramped up the fight against terrorism in Pakistan).  The Democratic Party- already predicted to lose seats in the 2010 midterm elections- would probably lose even more due to their affiliation with the Obama White House.  The same presidency that once sparked hope within the Democratic Party could eventually cost them much-needed representation in Congress.

Through the perspective on national-security, maintaining the status-quo seems like the right judgment.  At a time when the White House is accelerating its covert intervention in Yemen, it would be foolish to let Yemeni extremists from the Guantanamo facility jeopardize the already-fragile security situation in that country.  Through a political lens, keeping things the way they are (at the moment) would preserve Obama’s image as a man serious about defeating or containing the Al’Qaeda network.

It is amazing how this whole Gitmo controversy would cease to be a major story if the Christmas-Day bomber was refused entry on a civilian jet.

UPDATE:  Based on a classified Pentagon assessment, the Reuters News Agency reports that approximately 20 percent of former Guantanamo detains return to their terrorist causes.  This is a very concerning estimate; just last April, the same Pentagon assessment cited a 14 percent recidivism rate.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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15 Responses

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  1. spock112856 said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Just exactly what will Obama do with the Terrorists at Gitmo? Send them to Yemen?

  2. siege6529 said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    they would suffer much more in a maximum security prison on US soil. I say they deserve the worst. What say the rest of you?

  3. curio50 said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Welcome to REALITY Obama! It’s starting to look like the Bush Admin wasn’t totally of course now does it? (-: Evil is still evil, and stupid libs will continue to provide aide and comfort to enemies that simply want to kill us, but hopefully Obama will learn before another few thousand people are wiped out – ON HIS WATCH!

  4. david1159 said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    If you were a terrorist where would you prefer to stay. In the warm tropics in Cuba or the cold north of Illinois. Personally I would prefer Cuba. It never has made sence to me that if all we are going to do is transfer them from one prison to another but otherwise make no changes what is the point?

  5. gmgpswan said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    t has occured to me that putting these guys in a super max prison here in the states might not be a bad idea. Let them have a cellmate who’s in for life for murdering 7 or 8 people. Maybe the worst of our criminals can do to them what Obama doesn’t have the guts for. Let them do to these guys what they did to Jeffery Daumer.

  6. Dan said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Take a look at this updated report from the Reuters News Agency. According to Pentagon officials, approximately 25 percent of former Guantanamo detainees end up rejoining terrorist organizations. This is very concerning; just last April, the same assessment claimed that 14 percent of Gitmo inmates supported Islamic militant groups once released.


  7. bexaminer said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Like it or not keeping these individuals locked up on Gitmo is a good thing. Perhaps it does help with recruitment for the Al Qadea. That is negligable though. There are plenty of things that we in the west seem to do to make recruitment easy enough. If these “detainees” weren’t inclined to hate us prior to locking them up, they are now. We can’t release any of those people now. I guarantee you that the first thing they would do is run to the open arms of Al Qadea and go on speaking engagements on thier behalf. No, I’m afraid that releasing them now would be a serious mistake that would absolutely come back to bit us in the **s.

    Like it or not we are in a war that requires us to either eliminate ALL of them or deal with the consequences. The sooner we face and accept that fact the better off we will be. There is no making piece or coming to some sort of agreement with them. It’s war to the death. If you doubt that then you need to pull your head out of the sand. If it means adding yet another country to where we are already fighting then so be it. I hope though that we start fighting this war with greater ferocity. This is a war that we must win and you can believe that the opposition will do and are doing all that they can to hurt us. We need to take off the gloves and get serious about this. It has to be our number one priority. Let’s do it. In a way, these jerks are helping us by involving other nations. Now we can justify going almost where ever we want to kill them. Let’s make this cause work to our benefit like we did in WWII. We enjoyed full employment then. We can do this if we want to. We just need to realize that it’s us or them.

  8. terrazzo27zyx said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Not very clear what Oboma hopes to accomplish by moving these prisoners from one lock-up to another. It can still be used as a recruting tool. Only difference, no one will be able to take photos of how these prisoners are being handled, gentle or otherwise, unless they are granted access to film what goes on behing “closed doors”. What a person says is not always what they will do. Oboma said EXACTLY what needed to be said to smooth talk the people into voting for him. Glad I saw this man for what he is. Not experinced enough to be an effective, reliable, believeable and trust worthy individual. What you see is not always what you get, especially when you don’t ask the tough questions and the answers you hear, are avoided and sound less than truthful.

  9. turiddhu said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    wer’e still at war, you don’t release prisoners knowing that they will try to kill your people as soon as they are free.

    release them when the war ends,if it takes 20 years,release them after 20 years.

    whoever releases them now is responsible for the people killed by the freed terrorists, be them soldiers,cia or innocent civilians.

    you can’t live in a world of make believe,if your country is at war, you can’t make believe your’e at peace.

  10. Timmeh said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It shouldn’t be closed. There’s nothing wrong with the place. It’s not PC is it’s problem. The detainees aren’t being abused and that is a fact. Everyone, including liberal members of congress and human rights groups who have actually visited the place say that. How about if we close it, we send the prisoners to all of those liberal countries who want to close it?

  11. delfairchild said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    To De Petris:

    The Radical Islamists do not need a recruiting tool. They can get as many young brain washed men as they need to do their dirty work. They go to any Islamic school. They simply do not like America and to really make matters worse, they have nothing constructive to do with their lives. What we should do is put a GPS chip in these fellows and send them home. Then home in on the chip with a gift from Freedom loving people.

  12. grouchy said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    simple solution to Gitmo quagmire: quick military tribunal for all, those found guilty of hostile act against US, remove their hands and release them. Not guilty, release them. Send everyone back to Afganistan where we can take another shot at them. Convert Gitmo structure into America’s highest security prison for America’s worst criminals. This is to include those terrorists attempting crimes upon American soil such as the shoe bomber and the undie bomber, and all the rest of our serial murders from states too timid to enact capital punishment when deserved.

  13. AliceChin said, on January 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    This is a very interesting post and i also like your blog site designs, have bookmarked your site and will be looking for future updates.

    • Dan said, on January 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

      Thank you so much for your comments!! I always like to hear from fellow bloggers out there. Feel free to spread the word to your family and friends!! Every person helps.

    • Dan said, on January 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

      Thank you so much for your comments!! I always like to hear from fellow bloggers out there. Feel free to spread the word to your family and friends!! Every person helps.

      > New comment on your post #685 “Under Pressure From All Sides, President > Obama Delays Guantanamo Closure” > Author : AliceChin (IP: , > pool-71-174-169-141.bstnma.east.verizon.net) > E-mail : countrycab4me@gmail.com > URL : http://www.teachmehub.com > Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=

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