When I heard that Barack Obama had rededicated himself to closing Gitmo in his press conference on Tuesday (transcript here), the adage about insanity and repetition came to mind. James Taranto quotes Obama’s statement and notes how Obama agrees with the assumption regarding the Gitmo detainee hunger strike that was embedded in the question by CBS’s Bill Plante. Sounding like he’s speaking on behalf of the Gitmo detainees — is he doing public relations on the side of his day job with CBS? — Plante asked: “Mr. President, as you’re probably aware, there’s a growing hunger strike [in] Guantanamo Bay among prisoners there. Is it any surprise really that they would prefer death rather than have no end in sight to their confinement?” Obama responded:
The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan — the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.
Now, it’s a hard case to make because I think for a lot of Americans the notion is out of sight, out of mind. And it’s easy to demagogue the issue. That’s what happened the first time this came up. I’m going to go back at it because I think it’s important.
Speaking of hard cases, how about Obama? He still believes that bringing the Gitmo detainees to the United States for trial in federal court and, if convicted, incarcerating them in federal prisons is just the ticket. Given his inability to close Gitmo so far, Taranto comments: “Americans…should understand [Obama’s statement] as an indication that Obama’s commitment to leftist ideology is much stronger than his political abilities.” It needs to stop, indeed. At least he didn’t invoke the Nuremberg trials in support of his argument.
Andrew McCarthy fastens on another statement from Obama’s press conference to recall the adage about insanity and repetition. McCarthy focuses on this one approving the efforts of federal authorities who followed up on the warning from Russian intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston bombings:
Mr. Obama said that after the Russian warning, federal agents “had not only investigated the older brother; they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity.”
McCarthy’s explication of Obama’s statement is related to the law enforcement orientation of his objection to Gitmo. McCarthy comments:
Obama says, no, the FBI shouldn’t take any action until agents have proof that someone is engaging in violent acts – or at least conspiring to do so (since the president favors approaching jihadist terror as a crime, rather than a war, I assume his understanding of “activity” includes conspiracy). This takes us back to September 10th America.
What is to be done? Obama called his press conference on the occasion of reaching 100 days in his second term. Only 1,360 days to go!