Obama Prepares to Reverse His Guantanamo Promise
Unless something rather dramatic happens, the Obama Administration is going to give up on its self-imposed January 22, 2010 deadline for closing prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay. The Center for American Progress, a reliable barometer of the Administration’s thinking, has also advised against meeting the deadline.
As a legal matter, it is not obvious that closing Gitmo would have made much of a difference. In fact, current conditions at Gitmo are almost certainly better than the average U.S. prison. And it seems likely that Gitmo detainees will get almost all the same legal rights that they would have if held in the U.S. and probably more than if they were held in Afghanistan. While such detentions may violate international law, these detentions would equally be problematic in the U.S. or in Afghanistan.
So closing Gitmo was almost a purely symbolic act and it is really hard to figure out how to close it effectively. Obama knew or should have known this when he signed the closure order. But he obviously screwed up, which is why he has apparently fired the architect of this deadline, White House Counsel Gregory Craig. I guess someone has to take the blame.