I covered this on my show Friday. I suspected a story like this one was coming, buried deep in the news dump day of the year.
Perhaps the new Senate Armed Services Committee will work with its House counterpart and the Appropriations Committees of both chambers to block?
Read these three graphs from the CNN story carefully:
Once a detainee is deemed no longer a risk, they are either transferred back to their country of origin, or a third country that is willing to take them.
Sixty-four of the 132 remaining detainees have been ruled eligible for transfer.
Of the 64 eligible, 54 are from Yemen. But the United States is not willing, at this point, to send them back to Yemen because of concerns that the government — under pressure from al Qaeda and Houthi militants — cannot ensure they do not join al Qaeda elements there. The administration for the last several months has been trying to find a country that will take the Yemenis and provide security and human rights assurances for them.
So, breaking it down: Gitmo terrorists can only be released if they are “no longer a risk,” but the 54 Yemenis cannot be released to Yemen because they are a risk. Check.
Then there are the president’s four reasons for pushing closure:
“It is something that continues to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world, the fact that these folks are being held,” Obama said. “It is contrary to our values and it is wildly expensive. We’re spending millions for each individual there. And we have drawn down the population there significantly.”
Any evidence anywhere for #1? Australia, France, ISIS-land?
What “values,” the president should be asked, are compromised by holding terrorists indefinitely?
#3 says Gitmo is too expensive, but what value is put on the lives they will take if they return to battlefield, and what cost will the killers we don’t cost incur wherever else they go? KSM isn’t coming stateside after all.
Finally the last reason –“we have drawn down people there significantly”– is no reason at all, but in fact an indictment of the increasing difficulty in justifying the release of the hardened terrorists left at Gitmo. Only the hard core are left, but POTUS wants them shipped off to, to kill and maim another day.
In short, an absurd, serial set of non-sequitors, about par for this president’s command of logic and persuasive argument. Windy and without logic or fact to back it up. The new Congress should block him not only from closing Gitmo, but from expending money to relocate prisoners –a classic appropriations’ rider. Given the way the world is going, we are going to need the facility for decades into the future, and a full throated defense of the necessity as well.