President Obama has a new plan to close Guantanamo, and it’s pretty much like the old one: 1) Send the older, and/or less dangerous ones to a place where they’ll only bother somebody else; and 2) lock the others up in the United States. Why not just keep those in Guantanamo? Because Obama needs this politically.
As a political issue, Guantanamo has been a bridge between the moderate Democrats and the extreme left. It was a tricky balancing act for politicians because there were still some Democrats who remembered 9/11, but they could be brought on board by saying this was about “values” while also promising they would otherwise be tough on terror.
(These are the same values we’ve always had, but memories are short.)
The trouble for Democrats is, having won in 2008, they have the responsibility to defend the country. Our enemies aren’t stopping. There are some detainees we can never release while the war continues. Of those we do release, few will even say they oppose the jihad (no matter how nice they might otherwise try to sound).
And yet, President Obama and the Democrats still need a way to pretend they have solved the issue that they campaigned on for so long.
The solution is simple: Instead of actually closing Guantanamo, move it to a prison in the United States. Once it’s moved, the Democrats can tell their base that it’s been “closed.” That’s good enough for the partisan Democrat for whom it was never more than another talking point.
The funny part is that the extreme left hates this. Expect more Democrats to start complaining about “Guantanamo North” once a Republican is in charge again.
Addendum: I just watched Juan Williams on The Five fret that he thinks the Guantanamo detainees should have full trials. (Well, they’ve had tribunals over ten years ago, annual reviews, habeas hearings and new PRB parole hearings. While they’re not the same, let’s leave that difference aside for now.)
What he doesn’t seem to understand is that Obama’s plan for moving Guantanamo does not change their legal status. Under the plan, those not getting trials in Guantanamo still won’t be getting them in Guantanamo North.
It is only a change in location. From my perspective, the only nice thing about Obama’s plan is that the prison conditions at the new locations won’t be as pleasant for the detainees as what they have now.
This was never about human rights for any of Guantanamo’s critics.