Perhaps our definition of “nice” differs from that of Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “Nice” would be preventing the return of jihadists to the battlefields rather than releasing them out of some misguided idea that closing the prison that keeps them in secure custody would win the US propaganda points in the global war on terror. Instead, Barack Obama released five Taliban commanders a year ago in exchange for an American deserter, and continues to send detainees back to their native countries as recidivism continues. Ash Carter wants to make that process easier by closing Gitmo, and says it would be “nice” to do it before Obama leaves office:
The push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has been a goal of the president since the first day of his presidency, and as time runs out in his second term, his defense secretary, Ashton Carter, says he’s not confident it can be done.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Carter said that the very existence of the facility is “an extra talking point” for Jihadi propagandists, and “it would be good to eliminate that.” …
Carter also said that not every detainee in Guantanamo can be freed. “[W]e have to be very clear – there are people in Guantanamo Bay who cannot and should not be released because they will return to the terrorist fight,” he said. “And therefore we need a place where we can detain them in the long term. We have been forbidden to create such a place in U.S. territory.” …
Carter added, “I think that’s very desirable. And I think it would be nice to do that before the end of President Obama’s administration so that the next President doesn’t have to deal with this situation.”
Carter falls victim to the same canard as most of the media has over the past decade or so. The issue isn’t Gitmo, it’s the fact that we’re detaining jihadis at all. Numerous groups have demanded the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in Butner, North Carolina for his role in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. His imprisonment was the given motive for the 1997 attack on tourists in Luxor, Egypt, an attack that resulted in the massacre of 58 people. Terrorist groups recruit on demands for his release to this day, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The al-Qaeda affiliate that took Western refinery workers hostage in Algeria two years ago made Abdel-Rahman’s release one of their key demands, as well as the release of Aadfia Siddiqui. The latter, known as “Lady Qaeda,” is being held in a prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
What happens to those who do get released? The five exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl have re-engaged with the Taliban, although they won’t get to leave Qatar until November at the earliest. The Taliban, meanwhile, are about to capture a key city in northern Afghanistan as the US winds down its operations. The rush to get out of the war has done nothing to slake Taliban enthusiasm for fighting, and neither have Obama’s repeated calls to close Gitmo and send jihadis back home.
If there are terrorists who can never be released from custody, then we’d need to design and build a prison to ensure that they don’t get out. And guess what? We have already done that, at great expense, at our naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Congress doesn’t see the need to spend a lot of money building another such base inside the US, especially not for the worst-of-the-worst cases to which Carter refers. The House and Senate clearly has another definition of nice than Carter does, too.
Note: Apologies to the Beach Boys for the headline.