During Barack Obama’s hour-long televised speech on terrorism, he placed the crosshairs of blame squarely on one particular implied “rouge nation”: the United States of America. Toward the end of his comments, delivered at the National Defense University, he said:
So we bring law of war detention to an end, and we are committed to prosecuting terrorists whenever we can.
The glaring exception to this time-tested approach is the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The original premise for opening GTMO – that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention – was found unconstitutional five years ago.
In the meantime, GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.
What Obama was referring to was the 5-4 Supreme Court decision of June 12, 2008, officially known as Boumediene v. Bush, which ruled that prisoners had a right to habeas corpus under the Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was an unconstitutional suspension of that right.
What Obama failed to mention was that his own administration authorized Military Commission trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-conspirators at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.
But he wasn’t done looking somewhere other than in the mirror for a scapegoat for failures he cited:
During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people – almost $1 million per prisoner.
And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another $200 million to keep GTMO open at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home.
Somehow, Obama failed to recollect the $750,000 that his administration authorized to install a soccer filed at Gitmo so the “worst of the worst” al Qaeda has to offer wouldn’t get bored. (Assuming, that is, that the round-the-clock recreation time, satellite television, computer games. and classes for detainees were unable to hold their attention.)
Somehow, It’s the Republicans’ Fault…
Toward the end of his speech, Obama accused the GOP of playing politics:
Given my Administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.
But Congress has never kept him from closing Gitmo. What Congress has done is put the kibosh on prisoners being transferred to places like sun-splashed Bermuda and the tiny South Pacific paradise island nation of Palau.
To further bring into question Obama’s sincerity was a Chicago Tribune report of May 24, 2013 that cited Obama’s recently lifting a 2010 moratorium he put in place on repatriating prisoners to Yemen. The rationale the administration used was al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen masterminding a failed attempt to blow up a U.S. commercial airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
Of the 86 Guantanamo prisoners who have been cleared for release or transfer, 56 of them hail from Yemen. The administration did not indicate when those Yemenis would go home or remain in Gitmo, the same thing he blames Republicans for.