Will GOP takeover in House mean an end to Gitmo closing?

posted at 10:12 am on November 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

On his first day in office, flush with as much political power as any President on his election since Bill Clinton, Barack Obama proclaimed closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay as Job 1 – literally, as his first action as President was to issue an executive order for closing it within one year.  That effort derailed over the realities of terrorist detention, and the promised move of terrorist trials to civilian courts ran aground on predictable issues of criminal due process and its lack of application to wartime.  Now former Pentagon spokesman J. D. Gordon says that the change in Congress will likely mean an end to these efforts, and should:

Now, with the GOP in the driver’s seat in the House, and with Democrats having just the slimmest majority in the Senate, Republicans have the opportunity to force the administration to change course.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., next in line to serve as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, sent a telling signal to the Obama administration on Nov. 1, after a Canadian-born Guantanamo detainee named Omar Khadr finally pleaded guilty to murder after stalling for time in his five years of military commission hearings. …

Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King, R- N.Y. — next in line to head the House Homeland Security Committee — wrote in an op-ed on Sunday that as chairman, he will “work to stop the transfer of admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators from Guantanamo to lower Manhattan for trial.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also has been a powerful counterweight to the Obama administration on its plans to shutter Guantanamo and afford civilian trials to its detainees. In an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace last year he said, “I agree with the family of Daniel Pearl. You know, KSM murdered their son. And they said, ‘Why in the world would we want to give him the show trial that he desires’.” Now just a few seats shy of a Senate majority, Sen. McConnell will be further empowered to insist that 9/11 pre-trial hearings be re-started at Guantanamo.

If Republicans want to put the kibosh on these moves, the key chair positions in the House will be Judiciary, Armed Services, and Homeland Security.  Armed Services will want answers as to why the Obama administration has not utilized the bipartisan military commissions system passed while Democrats controlled Congress to adjudicate the terrorists, including KSM, who was ready to plead guilty until Eric Holder and Obama stopped the commissions in January 2009 and insisted on trying them in federal court.  Judiciary should be concerned about the exceptions the Department of Justice has been forced to demand in due process that may eventually erode the civil rights of Americans in federal court in order to shoehorn the processing of terrorists captured abroad by military and intelligence assets through the courts used for those arrested by law enforcement in the US.

Those hearings would supply plenty of interesting information, especially on who made these decisions and why.  Just the action of calling the hearings would probably push the White House into capitulating on the issue, as they have mostly capitulated already after the Christmas Day and Times Square terrorist attack attempts got voters angered all over again over the administration’s policies.  Obama has yet to offer a coherent argument for closing Gitmo other than for public-relations reasons, and how they can insist on trying KSM in criminal court while using the commissions system for other detainees.

Closing Gitmo and trying people captured outside of the normal law-enforcement paradigm in criminal court has already proven unrealistic.  Perhaps a new GOP majority in the House will give Obama an excuse for dropping these projects altogether.


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Wait a minute. You mean Gitmo hasn’t closed? I thought that was job #1 when the O team took over. Its at the top of his accomplishments list, even above Destroying US Economy.

james23 on November 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Perhaps a new GOP majority in the House will give Obama an excuse for dropping these projects altogether.

Let’s hope and pray, so.

OmahaConservative on November 9, 2010 at 10:15 AM

We’re in an untenable position. Keeping political prisoners forever just honestly disgusts me. I have no problem if they have been tried. I have no problem if that’s a military court.

But I have a problem with limbo.

Turn em’ all loose, I say. Close GITMO. Revise the system. Allow the military courts to function.

And be assured that they’ll be a problem again.

AnninCA on November 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM

The commies weren’t closing it but they were releasing terrorists indivisibly. That has to stop. And when are we going to start executing them?

Blake on November 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Now Obama has an out. He can blame the GOP for obstructing the closing of Gitmo. Not that anyone will buy that, but at least he can use them as his excuse.

Doughboy on November 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM

james23 on November 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

My brother didn’t know Gitmo was still open, he thought it had been closed for over a year because there has been no talk about it in the media at all for a long time. I’d be willing to bet that there are a couple million O-bots in this country who are just as uninformed.

Mord on November 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM

They are just roaches, in my opinion, who will scurry right back and join organizations to kill.

But, even so, they aren’t worth becoming like Russia and their hideous policy of locking people up for life on political grounds that are unproven.

Honestly, what’s one more terrorist out there, anyway?

Let them go. I’d just turn them all out, except those who are convicted for real crimes.

AnninCA on November 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Bush tried this business of reforming them. Talk about bending over backwards!

You can’t make this junk up.

AnninCA on November 9, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I can think of several people who should be IN Gitmo. And their from the current administration.

GarandFan on November 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM

AnninCA on November 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM

They are not political prisoners. They are illegal combatants. There is nothing immoral or illegal about detaining them. In fact, Bush released a few hundred people under the pressure of democrats after they took over in 2006, the only ones left are the hard-core maniacs like KSM. Several people that Bush released went right back to plotting terrorist attacks and commanding insurgent groups, armed with new knowledge they gained while detained at Gitmo.

Mord on November 9, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Turn em’ all loose, I say. Close GITMO. Revise the system. Allow the military courts to function.

And be assured that they’ll be a problem again.

AnninCA on November 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM

I suppose that works in theory. In practice, they might be a problem in a close proximity to my family/friends or fellow countrymen.

myrenovations on November 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Keeping political prisoners forever just honestly disgusts me.

Political prisoners? Are you joking? I thought California failed to legalize Mary-Jane.

I’ll use small words: These are terrorists (oops, big word) bad guys! They kill innocent people! They were not arrested because they oppose the Obambi regime! They were captured. On the battle field.

Please do not equate these animals with Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Liu Xiaobo.

rmgraha on November 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Wait a minute. You mean Gitmo hasn’t closed? I thought that was job #1 when the O team took over. Its at the top of his accomplishments list, even above Destroying US Economy.

james23 on November 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Dear Liar was hamstrung because He didn’t have a super majority in the House as well as a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. And a 70% approval rating.

Oh, wait. . .

rbj on November 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

I thought they closed the place like last January or something…..shows what I know../

ted c on November 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM

did they add a wheelchair ramp to the place yet? I mean, Hassan is going to need to have his ADA compliant access to the joint…

jus sayin’

ted c on November 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Was thinking the same thing Doughboy….the kool-aid drinkers will continue to believe that

cmsinaz on November 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM

I think we should vote to:
End DADT
Close GITMO
Pull troops out of Af/Pak
Pass Cap & Trade
Ban all firearms

And that vote should occur immediately after we eliminate the US Debt, including the borrowing from Social Security.

barnone on November 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM

GITMO will not close.

That was a great victory for us made possible by last Tuesday’s results.

HondaV65 on November 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM

But I thought Gitmo was an al Queda recruiting tool! Thousands of young Muslims joined AQ to get captured or die trying so they could be shipped off to this American “Devil’s Island” where they could be waterboarded or worse with no hope of ever leaving! Yes, I can see the appeal.

OR

It’s a terrorist recruiting tool because IF you’re captured they’ll just send you to tropical “Club Fed” where you’ll get fat on ice cream and other cool food, watch TV, practice your religion of peace and, who knows, get a lawyer and have a civilian trial or get released anyway so you can report back to AQ HQ!

cartooner on November 9, 2010 at 10:57 AM

We need a fair, secure and effective process for quickly identifying, prosecuting and interrogating foreign terrorists. Amend the constitution if necessary.

elfman on November 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Unlike Obama and the Dems, the Republicans I know, to include our local member of the House, understand fully why Guantanamo was chosen in the first place, and why the detainees should not be permitted to enjoy the benefits of the US federal judicial system.

The lame attempt by the Obama Administration (to include Eric Holder) to try an end run around the Geneva Conventions and produce perfect show trials so the Moslem world could see how “fair” we are and somehow produce a Moslem sea change wherein the Moslem world would suddenly come to love us has failed…miserably.

Either we abide by the law or we become lawless ourselves. Under Geneva these detainees are incredibly lucky, for under Geneva they would have simply enjoyed a very short period of incarceration (if that) and would have been given the choice of blindfold or no blindfold, cigarette or no cigarette, and summary justice as provided for under Geneva would have been accomplished.

coldwarrior on November 9, 2010 at 11:00 AM

We’re in an untenable position. Keeping political prisoners forever just honestly disgusts me. I have no problem if they have been tried. I have no problem if that’s a military court.

What is “untenable” about keeping enemy combatants prisoners? They were captured while trying to kill Americans in Afghanistan, and American soldiers could have killed them on the spot, and nobody from the U.N. would have complained. Their lives were spared because they had information about other potential future terror attacks, which the CIA wanted to know about, to protect all of us.

After 8 or 9 years in captivity, most of their information is “old news” by now, and the CIA probably won’t get any new useful information out of them. So let’s try them in a military court, and dispense whatever justice they deserve.

Of course, if the media and the Democrats hadn’t made such a stink about this non-issue, they would have already been tried years ago, and either convicted and executed, or exonerated and released. The media circus actually PROLONGED their imprisonment by about 4 years.

Steve Z on November 9, 2010 at 11:11 AM

I think we should vote to:
End DADT
Close GITMO
Pull troops out of Af/Pak
Pass Cap & Trade
Ban all firearms

And that vote should occur immediately after we eliminate the US Debt, including the borrowing from Social Security.

barnone on November 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Did you forget the /sarc tag?

Steve Z on November 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Enough already with that old photo of Gitmo. It just reinforces the stereotype the left has about the place. Geesh.

It’s not a country club, but it’s not what’s pictured either.

hepcat on November 9, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Will GOP takeover in House mean an end to Gitmo closing?

No, but it will give Obama great cover for screwing up the prosecution of these war criminals in 2 years when the MSM figures we have forgotten what he and Holder did. You just watch.

drunyan8315 on November 9, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Prisoners of war belong in POW camps until the end of the hostilities.

POW should be tried by military commissions.

slp on November 9, 2010 at 8:03 PM

slp on November 9, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Minor technicality on that one. The Gitmo detainees are not POW’s.

coldwarrior on November 9, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Minor technicality on that one. The Gitmo detainees are not POW’s.

coldwarrior on November 9, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Is the correct term unlawful combatants?

If so, then:

Unlawful combatants belong in GITMO until the end of the hostilities.

Unlawful combatants should be tried by military commissions.

slp on November 9, 2010 at 11:09 PM