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Gitmo Word Games

Today unnamed Obama advisors say Obama will order Guantanamo closed during his first week in office.

Ordering Guantanamo's prison closed is not the same thing as closing it. There's no mention of a timetable. As noted yesterday, he said on ABC's This Week not to expect it during his first 100 days.

When is a cigar not a cigar? Apparently, when it comes to closing Guantanamo. As the ACLU says in its latest press release on the anonymously-sourced promise:

“While the news from unnamed sources in the Obama transition team about the closing of Guantánamo is certainly welcome, what we need are specifics about the timeline for the shuttering of the military commissions and the release or charging of detainees who have been indefinitely held for years. Executive orders are an important first step. But we trust that President-elect Obama will provide a detailed plan for ending the Guantánamo military commissions, shutting down the Guantánamo military prison and ending President Bush’s legacy of indefinite detention. An executive order lacking such detail, especially after the transition team has had months to develop a comprehensive plan on an issue this important, would be insufficient.

More...

What we need is an executive order that is less about rhetoric and more about a detailed plan – and we’re hoping that that is what President-elect Obama has planned for January 20.”

Vague and indefinite orders with no bite won't cut the mustard. As I wrote earlier, this isn't rocket science. It's as easy as 1-2-3:

  • Send home those who can go home
  • Secure safe haven for those who cannot, and
  • Charge those who can be charged and try them in ordinary federal criminal court.
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  • Display: Sort:
    Don't worry, he's quadrangulating. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:02:40 PM EST
    It will take a while to get used to this new approach.

    I think Obama just calls it ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:43:39 PM EST
    "doing the quad."

    ;)

    Parent

    my reading suggests a name change. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by VicfromOregon on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:51:42 PM EST
    My understandig is that Gitmo will be closed once another site has been identified.  Many prisoners will be expedited out, but many will remain under a new status - "pre-emptive detainee" instead of "enemy combatant".  The problem with the combatant term is it implies things like war, conflict, soldier, and the like and puts pressure on America to adhere to the Geneva Conventions.  The new term is suppose to better side step that issue and identify the detainees as people with "intent" rather than "act".  Obama has retained the same core team who set Gitmo up in the first place.  The new legalese is being hammered out between those who want it and those who don't.  The military leadership has put up the greatest resistance so far.  But with the appointment of the Attorney General, it can go forward in some compromise form.

    America has always illegally detained prisoners.  It has always used torture.  It was just not prevalent and was to be carried out with the understanding that it was illegal.  We will probably go back to that status (do it in secret when deemed necessary by unrevealed sources).

    Obama signals continuity with US torture regime (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Andreas on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 12:09:51 AM EST
    The WSWS writes:

    The problem, he asserted, was that the hundreds who remain imprisoned there include some who "may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true."

    The solution to this problem, he indicated, involves "creating a process." He added, "Our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do."

    According to most accounts, what the president-elect is talking about is creating some kind of new "national security court" in which "tainted evidence--including confessions extracted through torture--may be used either to try and convict defendants or to continue detaining them without trial, and in which evidence and proceedings can be kept secret.

    Such remedies are being advocated as an alternative to swiftly closing down a facility that is seen all over the world as the hallmark of state criminality and either releasing or bringing to trial before a normal court of law those held there. What Obama is suggesting would enshrine in US law the torture regime developed under the Bush administration and create a pseudo-legal framework for further expanding the police-state apparatus of the US government.

    Obama signals continuity with US torture regime
    13 January 2009

    Is there some way to get notified (2.33 / 3) (#33)
    by slr51 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 05:20:30 AM EST
    when this site stops being 95% PUMA?

    Just Great. 4 years of Word Games (none / 0) (#2)
    by pluege on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:04:07 PM EST
    just what we needed in these crisis-filled times, more political BS nonsense and no leadership.


    That's four more years (4.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:51:22 PM EST
    since we've already had a year of WORM.

    It's encouraging to see that at least it's a game with an expiration date, at last, for some who bought into it.  Most will be sheeple, though.  

    But I bet Obama wishes that he could again just vote present -- on Gitmo and so much more.

    Parent

    "No Baggage" Obama (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Fabian on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 03:48:46 AM EST
    will shortly be buried under a load of Bush Baggage.

    He wanted the job, he's got the job.  

    Parent

    Let us not forget how Bushie (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:08:13 PM EST
    promised us time horizons for withdrawing from Iraq and ending some of his other barbarities.

    No one (in the tradmed) bothered to remind him or their audiences that, as a matter of definition, horizons always recede and never arrive, no matter how hard you chase them.

    And if you look at things in perspective (none / 0) (#8)
    by nycstray on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:51:29 PM EST
    you can have a couple of points*, depending on the object/horizon/view point  ;)

    *Why does my brain want to say vanishing points . . .  ?

    Parent

    Not Sure About That (none / 0) (#25)
    by squeaky on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:59:13 PM EST
    I think that Bush was a big proponent of "the long war" to replace the WOT and Iraq war. Not big on ending things soon except it is an argument to go to war. In that case the promise is that it will be 30 days war max.

    But one thing Bush was 'trying' to do was close down Guantanamo .

    Unfortunately he did would not speak to who he thought were enemies of the US aka enemies of BushCo.BushCo has already released all the detainees from allied european countries the remaining are mostly from Yemin, and other countries that will either not take their own nationals back or will not admit Guantanamo refugees. Australia has said no, and Canada has done nothing for Omar Khadr save for collaborating with BushCo.

    I think aggressive diplomacy is going to be in tall order here as CCR advises. It may also good idea for people to write to their congresscriters to allow Guantanimo detainees to their state.

    Parent

    Word Games? (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:09:34 PM EST
    Or responding to direct pressure? I guess we will see if Obama is just dancing around the issue or whether he will take the good ideas of CCR and others to shut down GItmo ASAP.

    I do not see him having anything to lose in acting as quickly as possible on this. He will need countries and US politicians to cooperate though because the detainees will have to go somewhere, both ones to be freed, and ones that are charged with a crime.

    What? A crime? (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:34:12 PM EST
    You? You actually think some have done some wrong to the county?

    Who knew? I am stunned. Yes, stunned.

    Parent

    If they had actually (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by robert72 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:21:55 PM EST
    done something against America they would be dead or put on public trial. These people plotted and associated with those who mean harm. Nebulous stuff - bad guys who haven't had a chance to actually put their nefarious plots into action. So what should we do with them? After torture, courts are not practical. Suggestions? They just don't fall under the law of civilized nations and rules.

    Parent
    robert72 ---- That was sarcasm on my part (1.00 / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 09:07:12 AM EST
    I don't know. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:51:45 PM EST
    I'm very pleased by this news. Yes, there's no timeline for a closing, but this does make at least an international statement that the United States is changing course in regards to this little black stain in Cuba.

    We'll see what the order says on January 20th, and I hope it's detailed and substantiative, because it affects the lives of 250+ people, but I do disagree with the ACLU on one thing: rhetoric is very important in this case. I want something that makes it very clear that we are not the same country as we were under Bush, and that we have different stances towards these types of matters. I want it to be flourishy and grand, for the sake of our international image.

    On the more substantive side, supposedly there's an executive order banning certain 'intelligence gathering' techniques such as waterboarding that may follow shortly to this one.

    An addendum: (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:59:01 PM EST
    The reason why I think the rhetoric and this singular executive order is so important is partially due to experiences I had in London over the summer. When I would discuss US politics/policy with my newfound friends and classmates in London, Guantanamo Bay was something that constantly came up. It is truly an international stain on our legacy, and any break in the pattern is very welcome. Americans traveling abroad may now feel less ashamed and be acted towards less harshly now that our new President has made this statement that America will not continue on with this black site.

    Americans abroad are negatively affected by our attitude about Guantanamo on a daily basis, if my experiences are any indication. Yes, details and substance should accompany this executive order, but I'm very happy that Obama's made this his first executive order. He should be commended.

    Parent

    Hm... Theater (none / 0) (#11)
    by weltec2 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:08:33 PM EST
    on an international level. Well, BO has shown himself very good at that hasn't he. Perhaps he could go back to Germany and give another speech. I do agree though that words are important. It was words that got BO elected. But he's going to need more than words and posturing once he's elected.

    Parent
    er... correct that... he's been elected... (none / 0) (#12)
    by weltec2 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:10:18 PM EST
    once he has been sworn in.

    Parent
    No excuse not to shut it down (none / 0) (#13)
    by Karin on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:13:37 PM EST
    I simply don't believe that Guantanamo has to stay open a minute longer due to lack of countries to accept the prisoners. iirc, more than half of them come from Yemen, and they are perfectly willing to take their own citizens back. In fact, they would probably happily take all the detainees. This is far preferable to trying to settle them in a country like Australia, which would be culturally alien to them. The only reason the Bushies had difficulty repatriating people to Yemen was because they insisted on having them continue to be imprisoned once they got there. That is something Yemen has trouble with because it is so domestically unpopular.
    Also, Obama should appoint Barbara Bodine to negotiate repatriation of the detainees. She was Ambassador to Yemen under Clinton, is fluent in Arabic and respected in the Middle East.

    Barbara Bodine? (none / 0) (#14)
    by weltec2 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:44:48 PM EST
    That would certainly be a no doubt well-deserved poke in the eye to John O'Neill, wouldn't it.

    Parent
    Bo will order it closed . . (none / 0) (#15)
    by SOS on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:19:23 PM EST
    "get it done". . then it will take 10 years for our "highly efficient" government to close it. If it's not forgotten in the shuffle of urgent issues this Nation faces during our Long Emergency.


    About the same schedule for (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:24:39 PM EST
    getting combat troops out of Iraq. No one even bothers to ask him about that anymore.

    Parent
    I know (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by SOS on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:27:25 PM EST
    Iraq seems to have basically fallen of the radar.

    Parent
    Of course if Bo's (none / 0) (#17)
    by SOS on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:26:41 PM EST
    Afghanistan surge works Gitmo could be moved over there as part of the next U.S. Occupation.

    Parent
    I could see that. (none / 0) (#32)
    by Fabian on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 03:54:04 AM EST
    Call it part of a temporary solution or a one phase of a deliberate, incremental process.

    I'm getting the hang of political spin and marketing.

    Parent

    Obama will close Gitmo (none / 0) (#19)
    by txpolitico67 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:30:46 PM EST
    when he starts ordering our troops home....

    Wow, all the "progressives" should be quite happy with him now.

    Not to mention (none / 0) (#20)
    by SOS on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:39:13 PM EST
    the only thread holding the U.S. economy together is the war machine.

    Parent
    uh, (none / 0) (#23)
    by txpolitico67 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:12:33 PM EST
    no.

    Parent
    It's as easy as 1-2-3...welllll (none / 0) (#26)
    by Rashomon66 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:32:39 PM EST
    Building a highway is as easy as 1-2-3 also but it takes longer than a day or a week or a month. I don't understand why Obama must suddenly do everything right NOW. Working in legal profession you have to know this will take time.

    His transition team (5.00 / 5) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:37:25 PM EST
    has had two months to plan this. His strategy team had months before that. He's had advisors on everything. He had a health care plan, an economy plan and every other kind of plan. He should also have a concrete plan to close Gitmo.

    Parent
    You do (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by JThomas on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 02:33:33 AM EST
    not know that he does not have a concrete plan.

    Can Obama ever please some of his detractors on here...not including you,Jeralyn in that but some are calling him another GW Bush already?
    That is flat ridiculous.

    Parent

    "unreasonable demands" (none / 0) (#29)
    by Andreas on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 02:15:43 AM EST
    You do not tell us why closing the  concentration and torture camp immediately is difficult. In fact there are no such practical difficulties.

    Obama does not intend to do this because there is no essential difference between him and George Walker Bush.