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Congress to Obama: Close Gitmo without our help

In what Associate Press writer Andrew Taylor calls a “modest victory” for the Obama administration, the Senate Tuesday evening agreed to let the Obama administration transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States -- but only to stand trial. You can bet this doesn’t feel like much of a victory in a White House that’s getting dangerously close to missing its self-imposed deadline to close the prison, which is coming up in January. This, in fact, does nothing to remedy the spinelessness on Guantanamo from a Democratic Congress filled with members who supposedly want to see the prison shuttered but don’t, apparently, want to give Obama the tools to do it.

In the short-term, Congress should approve a transfer policy that permits detaining as well as trying prisoners in America. Then the legislative branch should actually create new legal frameworks designed for the wars we are waging, under which America can hold and try such detainees without keeping Gitmo open, rather than letting less accountable courts improvise based on existing law.

Instead, Congress’s leaders have obstructed the president after the GOP scared Americans into -- somehow -- believing that the prisoners would pose a greater threat behind bars in Supermax than they do languishing in Gitmo. And for those of you who insist that the real problem with transferring the detainees is that it would give them access to federal courts -- not that Republicans are using that more sensible-sounding argument before trying unalloyed fear -- remember that the Supreme Court ruled that the prisoners already may file habeas petitions, even in Guantanamo.

It’s often said in Washington that the Democratic majority simply won’t hobble its new president with an embarrassing defeat on health care. But it is setting him up for a political disaster on a matter grave importance -- how and indeed whether this country proceeds, lawfully and reasonably, in prosecuting its fight against terrorism abroad.

By Stephen Stromberg  | October 20, 2009; 7:40 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Go back and read Obama's directive on Gitmo if you want to see spineless. He didn't say close it, he said investigate, study, look at options to bring about...... He could have closed it the day he took office. Or do you think a guy that could order the nuclear destruction of the earth could not have ordered the Air Force to go pick up a couple hundred people and move them... He only needs Congress for cover, just like he wants Republican on health care so he doesn't own it.

Posted by: mgochs | October 21, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Sorry mgochs, but you failed the reading part of the test. Here is the relevant section of the January 22 Executive Order:

Sec. 3. Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

Posted by: lisa9 | October 21, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Time for a political calculation.

Should the new prisoner detainee facility happen to be built on the Nuclear research Facility in southern Idaho, would any Democrat receive as many as one fewer vote in the next couple of elections? ow about dead center on Nellis AFB? Wendover? As these prisoners are currently considered more or less radioactive, out there in bombed over city seems appropriate.

Where there are no particular political consequences to consider, it is possible for common sense to prevail.

Now all he needs is the physical plant.

For that he needs Congress.

Posted by: ceflynline | October 21, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

What are the "less accountable courts" the author refers to? Is there anyone less accountable than a Federal judge appointed for life?

(And, in recent years, based more on their opposition to abortion and ability to raise money for the GOP than anything resembling legal credentials.)

Posted by: TheProFromDover | October 21, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

A photo was released of 4 Uighur detanees who were released to a pink bungalow with large swimming pool atop a hill in Bermuda. Naturally,the American taxpayer is supporting this paid vacation. Other Uighurs are awaiting placement in paradisical Palau for which our government has paid $250 million. These Uighars can hardly restrain their glee. Meanwhile, back in Detroit and other US cities, the situation seems grim as we watch the Dow climb over 10,000. What's wrong with the picture?

Posted by: drzimmern1 | October 26, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

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