Green Room

Gitmo to Definitely, Absolutely Close. Some Day.

posted at 7:49 am on December 22, 2010 by

According to a new report from the Washington Post, the Obama administration is sticking to its guns and will end one of the worst abuses of power by George W. Bush by closing the prisoner detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Unfortunately, the actual date of closure may have to be pushed back a bit… perhaps until Cuba crashes into Europe during the formation of the Pangaea Ultima supercontinent roughly 250 million years from now.

Obama administration readies indefinite detention order for Guantanamo detainees

The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but allow those detainees and their lawyers to challenge the basis for continued incarceration, U.S. officials said.

The administration has long signaled that the use of prolonged detention, preferably at a facility in the United States, was one element of its plan to close Guantanamo. An interagency task force found that 48 of the 174 detainees remaining at the facility would have to be held in what the administration calls prolonged detention.

However, almost every part of the administration’s plan to close Guantanamo is on hold, and it could be crippled this week if Congress bans the transfer of detainees to the United States for trial and sets up steep hurdles to the repatriation or resettlement in third countries of other detainees.

Going through the details of this plan, a shorter translation might be, “We still oppose the policies of George W. Bush regarding indefinite detention without trial for any suspect, so we’re going to handle every aspect of the situation differently unless we can’t.”

The major changes seem to be:

    1. We’re not going to call it indefinite detention anymore. We’ll call it prolonged detention, even if that means, prolonged until you reach room temperature.

    2. Unlike Bush, we’re going to let the prisoners challenge their detention. Of course, they’ll be challenging it in Gitmo without an actual lawyer and it won’t change anything, but they can challenge it, dagnabit!

    3. We will move vigorously toward relocating the prisoners, either to the United States or some other country, and closing the facility in Cuba… unless Congress says we can’t, in which case we’ll leave it open.

This is shaping up to be yet another case where President Obama’s campaign trail promises of righting the perceived wrongs of the previous administration have slowly morphed into doing precisely what George W. Bush was doing. And once again it’s not sitting well with his base.

“Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president’s pen,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office. “Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law. That is bad for America and is not the form of justice we want other nations to emulate.”

After the rather disastrous results of our last attempt at trying a terror suspect in the United States, patience seems to be wearing thin on all fronts and Obama has caught wind of it. It looks like we’ll be getting pretty much the exact same policy we’ve had for roughly the last decade, except with a few hopeful looking talking points festooning it for the holidays. The only remaining question is how Team Obama will spin this one as a win in the media.

Recently in the Green Room: