Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Step 1: Release More Prisoners, Step 2: A Miracle Happens, Step 3: Close GITMO

The NYT has a nice read today about why Obama’s Plan For Guantánamo Is Seen Faltering:

The administration’s fitful effort to shut down the prison is collapsing again. Ashton B. Carter, in his first six months as defense secretary, has yet to make a decision on any newly proposed deals to transfer individual detainees. His delay, which echoes a pattern last year by his predecessor, Chuck Hagel, is generating mounting concern in the White House and State Department, officials say.

Last week, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, convened a cabinet-level “principals committee” meeting on how to close the prison before the president leaves office in 18 months. At that meeting, Mr. Carter was presented with an unsigned National Security Council memo stating that he would have 30 days to make decisions on newly proposed transfers, according to several officials familiar with the internal deliberations.

But the meeting ended inconclusively. Mr. Carter did not commit to making a decision on pending transfer proposals by a particular date, including the repatriation of a Mauritanian and a Moroccan. Nor was it clear whether he accepted the 30-day deadline, those officials said.

Can the administration arm-twist Secretary Carter into approving more releases? What would be in it for him?

Even if they can, they would still have to deal with Congress. Back in January, Politico had an interesting take on the strategy the administration may be planning to use to overcome the very large reluctance of Congress to closing Gitmo:

Administration officials say their strategy is to keep cutting the number of prisoners, which started at 242 when Obama was sworn in and now stands at 127. When the tally drops below 100 and perhaps even as low as a few dozen, officials say, the cost per prisoner will zoom so high that keeping the facility open will be transparently foolish and lawmakers will abandon their resistance to closing the island jail.

“I think the facts and the logic will be very compelling, once we get it down to a small core,” said Cliff Sloan, who stepped down last year after 18 months as the State Department envoy for Guantánamo closure. “I think the case becomes overwhelming for them to be able to be moved to the U.S. and placed in very secure facilities.”

-- snip --

“Nobody should underestimate the determination of the president to close Guantánamo in his presidency,” Sloan said. “He feels very strongly about it.”

He feels very strongly about it? Well, I feel very strongly about buying my own stretch of prime trout-fishing river front someday. Let’s see who gets lucky first, me or Obama.

Back to the story:

“If Obama couldn’t win over Congress on this issue when the Democrats controlled one house, how much more likely is it he’ll be able to win over Congress when the Republicans control both houses?” asked detainee lawyer David Remes.

-- snip --

By 230-184, the House cast a largely party-line vote last year to put a one-year halt on all transfers out of Guantánamo, a measure stripped out in talks with the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans now have 12 more House seats than they did last year and have gained a majority in the Senate.

The numbers are against the administration on this, but I must say that's an interesting political strategy they have for turning things around. It is a well-known fact that our elected representatives hate to be associated with wasteful government spending. Why, I'm sure the typical Congressman would like nothing better than to get into a debate with an opponent who promises to spend whatever amount of money it takes to keep those prisoners in Gitmo and away from the United States.

I mean, they would, right?


Anonymous said...

TSB: What ever happened to 'All Queda Lives Matter'??

Anonymous said...

TSB: The Chi/coms have shut down 1000 coal power plants this year and the last one will be closed by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, in Longview, Wa coal trains have been banned temporarily while the city council 'mulls'about allowing a coal terminal.

Naturally, that doesn't stop the trains. They are still coming in. My neighbor waited for 15 minutes while one rolled by this week and we both spotted dumptruck piles of coal in a hayfield 2 miles from here. They are hiding most of it in an abandoned Reynolds aluminum toxic waste site. This battle has been going on for 4? years now. When Hillary comes to town she will probably denounce the coal plans and tell us she is still trying to decide about the tar sands pipeline.
My back yard is available for her if she wants to pack 10 or 15 people in here. gwb

TSB said...

GWB: I'm surprised about the ChiComs. They must be converting to natural gas for power generation? Most countries are. Before long there won't be much of a market for coal.

TSB said...

Al Qaeda? It could be that all Qaeda lives matter.

Anonymous said...

TSB: That makes a lot more sense!
I guess the western coal miners are planning to store all their unwanted coal here in Longview and wait for bloomers to come back. I wish they would dump it on the golf course so we could get some action out of the city council.
Trump made a big splash in Laredo today. Once we get a good Fascist in power we will be able to build that wall with Trump labor and bring all those jobs back from Mexico. I think I would be a good 'informer' if I could drink more beer without falling asleep. gwb

I took my Toyota warning card to the dealer this morning..What a hoot! The service guy said I was the only one to bring one in so far.
They won't the have parts for my 'IED-TAKATA' bags for 4-6 months.

Anonymous said...

TSB: Obama decided not to visit his ancestral homeland in Kenya. I don't blame him. Too many blow darts, spears and Uzi's. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: This is actually not a good idea.

I see weekend warriors all the time who end their working life way too early by deciding 'to change their life' and end up wrecking their back, blowing out a knee or loosing a 100 lbs fast. This poor guy thought he could go 3000 miles in 4 weeks. I just hope he gets out of this with minor injuries. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Re Hillary and Bernie. Maybe Joe Biden and make a deal with Hillary to jump in and water down the Bernie vote in exchange for a job in the administration... something inconsequential like Sec-State?

TSB said...

GWB: It would not be crazy of Biden to get into the Dem nomination contest - I can hardly believe I'm saying that - now that Sanders has taken the left side of the field from Hillary. Biden would no longer be the weirdest one in the bunch, which is a new experience for him.

Hillary's campaign is in trouble, and there seems to be buyers remorse from her base, hence Sanders' appeal. Martin O'Malley - former Governor of Maryland, former Mayor of Baltimore - is pitching himself as the third alternative who is as crazy-left as either of the other two but the only one in the race with executive experience. If Biden entered now, he might pull off an elder statesman thing and attract Democrats from all sides.