When Barack Obama took office in January, he deliberately chose to make the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay his first project, and promised to have it accomplished in a year. Critics scoffed, especially since Obama made this bold pledge without any hint of a plan as to how to fulfill it. Obama attempted to outsource it to other nations and discovered that most weren’t particularly eager to house terrorists just to get Obama off the hook for a really foolish pledge.
Today, the Washington Post reports what all of us knew eight months ago — that Gitmo will remain open after Obama’s deadline, and his incompetence means it will remain open for an undetermined length of time:
With four months left to meet its self-imposed deadline for closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Obama administration is working to recover from missteps that have put officials behind schedule and left them struggling to win the cooperation of Congress.
Even before the inauguration, President Obama’s top advisers settled on a course of action they were counseled against: announcing that they would close the facility within one year. Today, officials are acknowledging that they will be hard-pressed to meet that goal.
The White House has faltered in part because of the legal, political and diplomatic complexities involved in determining what to do with more than 200 terrorism suspects at the prison. But senior advisers privately acknowledge not devising a concrete plan for where to move the detainees and mishandling Congress.
In the real world, people create plans first, and then figure out the deadlines. In the Obama administration, the president sets deadlines and leaves everyone else scrambling on how to meet them. Without a firm plan and especially without consulting Congress, this left the White House looking for ad hoc solutions that mainly relied on the willingness of other countries to accept people the United States rejected for their ties to terrorists.
Not only did that flop very badly and very publicly, it backfired on the rare occasion of success. The US sent four Uighirs from Gitmo to Bermuda without telling the British about it — and the Brits supply the security for Bermuda. That not only created unnecessary diplomatic tensions between the US and the UK, but it also created tensions between the UK and China, who want those Uighurs for their terrorist activities at home.
It was an appalling display of diplomatic incompetence, initiated by the incompetent manner in which this entire project has been handled. White House counsel Gregory Craig has taken the temporary hit for the failure, and will get rewarded for his loyalty with a diplomatic post. The failure here, though, starts at the top. Obama has a habit of making unrealistic goals and announcing them with little preparation, and this is just one in a series of examples — the stimulus, the health-care overhaul, cap and trade, automaker bailouts, and so on. This administration has delivered a constant series of data points for a conclusion of rank incompetence, and this is one of the big, red marks on that series.