Gitmo's Nowhere Men

Barack Obama may have bitten off more than he could chew in regards to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The Miami Herald reports that the Obama administration has made no headway on determining where it will put the current detainees once they close the base, whether they’ll house them in one facility or several, or even whether they will house them in the US at all.  In fact, the response from the Obama administration suggests that they may end up nowhere, man:

The Obama administration said Monday it has made no decisions on how many of the 240 or so Guantánamo detainees will be moved to U.S. soil, and whether they will be scattered around lockups throughout the United States or concentrated in one place.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd also declined to say whether any sites had been ruled out as possible lockups for the men from 30 nations, many of whom have been held at the remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba for seven-plus years. …

”There have been no final determinations made at this point with respect to individual detainees and whether or not they might be transferred to one location on U.S. soil, or several locations, or none at all,” Boyd said in response to a query from The Miami Herald.

“Or none at all”?  That implies that the detainees might stop existing altogether when Obama closes Gitmo.  That would certainly be change that national-security conservatives could believe in. Unfortunately, Boyd probably just wrote his response carelessly.  I don’t think Obama’s planning on mass executions as an option.  Talk about an expiration date!

That does sound as though Obama’s considering another site outside of American soil, since that’s the only other definition of that sentence.  If that’s the case, Obama will have to explain why it makes sense to close Gitmo, just to open a new facility.  The construction costs would have to get duplicated (a stimulus package for the military?), and it would do nothing to solve the problems Obama has repeatedly declared that he has with Gitmo.  He’s never argued for closing the base as a merely symbolic gesture, as John McCain implied at times during the presidential campaign.  His sudden interest in fighting habeas corpus for Bagram detainees might indicate a change of heart, however.

After two years on the campaign trail, when he declared without equivocation that he could shut down Gitmo, and 90 days into his presidency, Obama still has no plan on how to do it.  I suspect that he anticipated a lot more help from the Europeans, and got shocked when he could only offload one Algerian to France.  Europe wanted to know why we needed to send them there instead of setting them up in the US, if Obama thought they were so innocuous.   Suddenly, this looks a lot more difficult than it did on the campaign trail, and Obama only has the unpopular options of housing terrorists in the US, releasing them outright, or the worst of all possible worlds, releasing them in the US.  Maybe Diego Garcia isn’t such a bad idea after all.