Obama Re-Promises To Close Down Guantanamo Bay, Why Not Just Sequester It?

Still open four years after being ordered shut down, with 86 detainees cleared for release but still there


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It seems it's a lot easier to slow down air traffic or shut down air shows than to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, which Barack Obama first promised to do on the 2008 campaign trail. In a press conference today, the president renewed that promise, blaming Congressional intransigence for his failure to close the prison in the last five years. A hunger strike by much of the prison population (many of whom have been there more than a decade) has apparently brought the issue back to Obama's attention. Congress has hampered some of his efforts, withholding funding for the transfer of inmates, for example. Yet it's the president's signature that makes into law Congress' preferred Guantanamo policy.

The Obama Administration last year finally made public a list of prisoners at Guantanamo who were cleared for release. According to the NGO Human Rights First, there are 86 prisoners (out of a total 166 at Gitmo) cleared for release but not yet transferred. Under Obama, 72 have been transferred out of Gitmo; President George W. Bush released more than 500 (out of a prison population that hit a high of 779). Obama suspended transfers to Yemen (where most of the cleared for release detainees are from) in 2010 after a failed underwear bomb plot by a Nigerian national, tied to Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (Yemen).

The ACLU, which has been an advocate for closing the prison camp, say they "welcome the president's continued commitment to closing" and offer two steps the president could take immediately: bring Guantanamo's closure policy under the purview of the White House and not the Pentagon, and begin certifying those 86 prisoners cleared for release but still in detention. Something the president hasn't done in the last five years despite the "commitment" the ACLU sees in him on the subject.

Forty six prisoners at Guantanamo bay have been "designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial." Fifteen prisoners are children under the age of 18, and only seven out of the grand total of 779 have been convicted in trial or by military commission.

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  1. Wasn’t closing Gitmo one of the things he said would be “the very first thing” he would do?

    1. Yep.

      Obaba is no more than a lying piece of shit that will say what he needs to say in order to get the heat off of him until the next Crisis? comes along to take the attention away.

      1. He’s not possible with a population that has any attention span at all or that resents being lied to.

    2. I think it was somewhere between “ending the war on drugs”, “ending the war in Iraq”, “ending the war in Afganistan” and gay marriage.

    3. I love when small-government types criticize the president for not asserting more unilateral authority.

      1. Sad Tony has a Sad. Sad, Sad Tony.

        1. If you would just utterly ignore it you would make it the saddest of all.

          1. I agree with you. But, sometimes I break my own rules to mock what so emminently deserves nothing but mockery.

      2. I think you are missing the point. It’s about stream of consciousness lying. I’m sure you understand.

        1. So it’s more like performance art?

          1. +1 lie for you 🙂

      3. I’m pretty sure everyone here is on board with the President’s veto authority.

  2. We should put all the illegal immigrants in a similar place.

    We could call it Jauntonomo.

  3. Barry, you are so full of shit.

  4. Not to mention that they’re force feeding these poor fucks with oversized feeding tubes, then yanking them out and cramming them down into another poor fuck’s nose without even cleaning them. Sami el-Haj, an ex-prisoner, says he asked them why they were being rough with the tubes, and not cleaning them, using oversized tubes, etc. He says their response was, “We want you to end this hunger strike.”

    All under the watchful eye of the Closer of Guantanamo.

    1. Now, DOEHHSFTCFCC, libertarians are fine with force feeding. Just check out the threads about foie gras…

      1. I see what you did there…

      2. Difference : We’re not planning to eat the prisoners’ livers. I’m not a humanitarian.

        My response to a hunger strike is to do nothing. One way or another it will resolve itself.

  5. How can anybody take this guy seriously anymore?

    1. Bush? Nobody does.

      1. Sad, Sad Tony.

  6. Fifteen prisoners are children,

    Well, if O waits long enough they won’t be. I just don’t get the big deal. Can’t he just release all of them to Yemen, then order a drone strike on the bus that picks them up there?

  7. And the delicious irony of Kal Penn (Kumar) being a WH staffer…

  8. Such are the wages of living in a fantasy world. The fact is that the guys down there are dangerous. But the evidence that proves they are dangerous probably wouldn’t meet admissibility standards of federal court. But no President is ever going to just turn these guys lose for fear they would later do something.

    A sane administration would have long ago set military tribunals with due process and relaxed rules of evidence and tried these guys and sentenced them already. They wouldn’t have been kangaroo courts. The one tribunal they ran gave the chauffeur basically time served.

    But NOOO we couldn’t do that. So instead these guys just sit down there with no charges, no hope of release and not so much as an Article 5 tribunal.

    And Obama’s complete inability to face reality and deal with this issue is why he drone strikes everything. We don’t even try to capture these people anymore. Obama’s solution is to just kill anyone he thinks might be a terrorist. You don’t have to worry about how to handle dead people. It is quite convenient that way.

    1. Whether it’s Gitmo detentions or drone strikes, I don’t trust Obama’s or Bush’s assessment of who is dangerous.

      1. But at leas the GITMO detainees are still alive. And you don’t to trust them. You can have a tribunal make that determination. If you drone strike them, the results are kind of irreversible.

        1. I’m not sure how a tribunal he appoints and that is dismissable at his pleasure is any better. I’m sure that the President isn’t actually reviewing any of the files/evidence right now. A bunch of military guys, many of whom are probably the JAs that would be on the tribunal, are doing that. You’re basically proposing we call them a “tribunal” and all will be solved.

          1. But they are not. They have done it once. And the result was not to the government’s liking at all. A tribunal results in a verdict and a sentence and closes the issue. They don’t just sit down there with no due process or hope of release.

    2. I agree with John here. For guys captured on the battlefield, I’m ok with a military tribunal, but I am not ok with the government locking them up indefinitely with no due process.

  9. In a press conference today, the president renewed that promise, blaming Congressional intransigence for his failure to close the prison in the last five years

    Oh, so he won’t ask for Congressional approval to pepper the Middle East and Asia with drone strikes but he can’t do a damn thing about Gitmo because of Congress? What a sack of shit. No, strike that, that would be to insult a useful fertilizer.

    1. He’s more of a sack of pus, I’d say. If you want to get technical.

      1. Ooh, I know! He’s a shit-eating aardvark!

  10. “The fact is that the guys down there are dangerous.”

    Untrue. John 80 or so of them have already been deemed not guilty as well as not dangerous by our own military. There is absolutely no reason these folks cannot be released immediately.

    1. Well, no, you can’t just release them; because for some reason they are really pissed off and resentful and might try to get revenge.

    2. Yeah, but don’t their own countries not want them back? Also, any talk of settling them in the US and whatever congresscritter whose district they’re thinking of settling them in goes apeshit. And apparently third-party putative host countries want really big concessions for taking them.

      Srsly, these guys are going to be held until they die of old age just to cover up for some bureacrats’ incompetence.

      1. Their own countries don’t want them back or if they took them back would torture them, allegedly. But no one has the balls to sign off on granting them asylum because they don’t want to be held accountable if they do something bad.

    3. True. I had forgotten about that. And those guys should be released. If I am not mistaken those guys are not being sent back to their home country because they are wanted there and they will probably be tortured and imprisoned. So our solution is to keep them locked up.

      Yeah, that makes sense.

  11. Just to give a sense of what’s going on there. It’s from a Democracy Now interview Amy Goodman did with Sami Al-Hajj. Folks might take issue with the fact that this comes from a hard-left journo, but I would point out that there are very few other outlets, aside from DN, Reason and Glenn Greenwald that are even talking about the treatment of prisoners at this facility.

    Snippets to follow due to post length restrictions.

  12. AMY GOODMAN: In January 2007, Sami al-Hajj began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. It continued for 438 days, until his release, May 2008. Well, when we were in Doha, Qatar, for the climate change summit, I had a chance to conduct a rare interview with Sami al-Hajj at Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, where he heads the network’s human rights and public liberties desk. In this part of the interview, I asked him to describe how officials at Guant?namo force-fed him with tubes during his hunger strike.

  13. SAMI AL-HAJJ: They doesn’t bring a small tube, big.

    AMY GOODMAN: They bring a tube that’s too big?

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: Yes, yes, too big, very big.

    AMY GOODMAN: ?to put up your nose and down into your stomach?

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: And there is some [inaudible]. When they take it, they take it by force, and very quick.

    AMY GOODMAN: So they jerk it out of your nose.

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: Yes, some blood coming, yes. And many times they doesn’t cleaning the tube. When they feed the other guy, they come, and same thing. They give it to you by?

    AMY GOODMAN: They use the tube that they used in the person they have seated next to you.

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: For another, yes, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: And then they put it into you?

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: For you, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: ?without cleaning it.

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: Without cleaning. You see the blood and everything inside.

  14. AMY GOODMAN: You see the blood.

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: Inside, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Did you say?when they would take the tube of a man next to you and put it into you, shove it down through your nose into your stomach, would you say something?

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: For that, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Would you ask why they were doing this?

    SAMI AL-HAJJ: Yes, they said?they told us, “We want you to break your hunger strike.” They tell us directly like that. They ask us to break our hunger strike. They said, “We’ll never deal with you as the detainees until you break your hunger strike.”

    1. Hecule is that you?

  15. Release them into Castro’s socialist paradise as payback for the Carter Flotilla.

    1. They would actually end up eating worse. and have lousier healthcare. But hey, free bananas.

  16. How about just giving them a slice of the coastline and letting them build a community there? Like an Indian reservation.

  17. Speaking of sequestration,just how is that the Obamacare implementaton (and advertising propaganda) expenses haven’t been subjected to it yet?

  18. President Obama promises to…
    I’m sorry I fell asleep after I raelised it was another story of Obama breaking his promises. Bored with it. Spoiler alert, he never does the decent thing.

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