Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Closing Gitmo "A Fundamental National Security Interest"?

Get a load of this White House Press Background Briefing done yesterday afternoon in Honolulu.

To start with the person conducting the background briefing is indentified only as a "Senior Administration Official." It seems rather peculiar that the White House would not identify the person giving a press briefing.

But then maybe it's because the Obama Administration doesn't want anyone to shoot the messenger. When a reporter asked about the transfer of six Gitmo detainees back to Yemen last week the "Senior Administration Official" stated:

You know, we've been obviously working this through very aggressively. We're making decisions based on a range of intelligence that we have and we're obviously dealing with a situation that we've inherited as it relates to our ability to hold certain individuals. But we're confident that any transfers that we're making are being made not only consistent with our national security interests but also consistent with what we consider to be a fundamental national security interest in closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

I think that some of us were struck by the fact when al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula itself was formed it was the conglomeration of two separate al Qaeda affiliates -- when it was formed, one of the recruiting and motivational tools that it used in its initial announcement to generate sympathy for its cause as well as recruits was the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

So we continue to feel that this is in our national security interest to close. We feel that the way we're closing it is advancing our national security interest goals, and that will continue to be the case.

Where to begin?

The Senior Administration Official claims "we're obviously dealing with a situation we've inherited." What a cop out! Well, it's a situation they've complicated by making the decision to close Gitmo the first day on the job. Maybe they should have sat back and come to a fuller understanding of what they "inherited" before making such a rash and foolish decision.

What national security interest does closing Gitmo serve exactly? This decision opened the door for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to have a civilian trial. This decision opened the door for Umar Farouk Abdul Mutullab to invoke his right to remain silent. Or does the Obama Administration believe its bears no responsibility for its decisions?

Well, the Obama Administration argues that Guantanamo is a recruitment tool for al Qaeda. Let's say that it is a recruitment tool for al Qaeda. But then what about our enlarged presence in Afghanistan? Isn't that a recruitment tool for al Qaeda? If the Obama Administration takes its argument to its logical conclusion then immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan would be "a fundamental national security interest." The same could also be said for our support for Israel, the rights of women and religious freedom. Does the Obama Administration wish to dispense with these policies as well?

Gitmo will still be open in 2010 but by making the decision to shutter it without any thought the Obama Administration has tied their own hands behind their back and compromised our ability to address those very fundamental national security interests.

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