Rumors of Gitmo’s Demise
Turns out rumors of a new Obama Administration-developed security court may have been greatly exaggerated – or at least premature. The blogosphere was briefly abuzz yesterday after an AP wire story in the morning reported that some of the Guantanamo detainees “might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to [unnamed] advisers and Democrats involved” in talks with the Obama transition. In particular, “[a]ccording to three advisers participating in the process, Obama is expected to propose a new court system, appointing a committee to decide how such a court would operate.”
By last evening, CNN was quoting an actually named transition adviser who had a rather different take. According to senior adviser Denis McDonough, no decisions had been made about what to do with the remaining Guantanamo inmates when the base is closed, and moreover “there is no process in place to make that decision until [President-Elect Obama’s] national security and legal teams are assembled.”
McDonough’s position is not only obviously right, it’s far more likely true. The resolution of the cases remaining at Guantanamo is as fraught an endeavor as any, sensibly resolved only with the input of an interagency-type team including at a minimum the Departments of Defense and Justice, CIA and State. It also seems like the kind of judgment that one wouldn’t want to make without having actually reviewed the full factual record the government has assembled on the individuals who remain – a record that still has been only partly made public. It’d be one heck of a transition team that had managed to make time in the first week to review all 250+ cases from Gitmo on the (classified and unclassified) facts.
A whole lot of folks are understandably – and rightly – keen to see Gitmo resolved ASAP. But as someone (could be the president-elect) once said with respect to Iraq – we need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. There are a few things, including a clear statement of purpose, that can happen right away. For the rest, we’ll have to wait at a minimum til after January 20.