Barack Obama signed three executive orders on January 22, 2009. One provided for closure of Guantanamo and the the review of the cases of the detainees held there. One provided for the termination of the CIA program of enhanced interrogation. One provided for the review of detention policy options. Following on these orders Eric Holder promulgated the insane protocol establishing a presumption in favor or the trial of Guantanamo detainees in federal court. (All of Obama’s 2009 executive orders are collected here.) These executive orders form the keystone of the Obama administration’s approach to the effort formerly known as the war on terrorism.
Now comes word that the White House is reconsidering a plan to move Guantanamo detainees to a prison in northwest Illinois. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he agrees that the Obama administration should reassess the plan to move terrorist suspects from the Cuba military base to Thomson Correctional Facility in the state’s northwest corner. Politico quotes Hoyer stating that he thinks “the administration realizes that this is a difficult issue.” The administration didn’t “realize” it last year, but the light is beginning to dawn on it.
Hoyer added: “I think that they are assessing where they are and where they think we ought to be, and I think that’s appropriate and I look forward to discussing it with them.”
Politico thinks politics might have something to do with it. Politico explains: “Congress would have to appropriate such funds, which could prove a stumbling block for the White House plans. Republicans have been largely unified in opposition to the prison move, and Democrats such as Illinois Rep. Melissa Bean have joined along.” One infers that voting for the funds necessary to close Guantanamo and open a facility for the Guantanamo detainees on the mainland of the United States is a problem, and not just for Melissa Bean.
With the news that the five senior leaders of the U.S. intelligence community told a Senate panel Tuesday they are “certain” that terrorists will attempt another attack on the United States in the next three to six months, it might be best for the Obama administration to reconsider all three pillars of its approach to “man-caused disasters.”
Umar Abdulmutallab, for example, should be remanded to the custody of the Department of Defense at Guantanamo. If necessary, he should be given the kind of interrogation that helped the CIA prevent follow-up attacks after 9/11. And he should be tried before a military commission.
UPDATE: Reader Geoff Mike proposes an elegant solution: “Since the Prison in IL is out, Obama could send the detainees to Yucca Mountain. What the heck, he could make up with Nevada by providing them with hundreds of millions of $ in jobs, and turn the high security desert site into the new, improved, Gitmo.” But speaking personally, I’d prefer nuclear waste in my back yard.
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