Saturday, August 22, 2015

UPDATE: Will Gitmo Close as President Obama Promised — Hell No Says GOP

Photo provided by the AP / the Toronto Star by Michelle Shephard

This is update of my June 18th post which posted this post question: Will the Sun Ever Set on Gitmo... that post follows this update as originally posted.

This update comes from two sources, both very good and with extensive details.

(1) The first update is here with a few highlights that also includes a link to the other source: (2) The Daily Beast, and a few highlights from there.

From Yahoo news: Gitmo became the holding place for individuals suspected of planning attacks against the United States. Since its opening, Gitmo has held more than 780 prisoners. Over the years, prisoners have been transferred or released. And now 116 still remain. Since its inception, the detention center has been controversial. Human rights activists have argued for its closure. Others believe that Guantanamo has been crucial in the war on terror. President Obama agrees Gitmo should go. 

In 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama made a promise to shut down Guantanamo saying, “Our legitimacy is reduced, when we’ve got a Guantanamo that is open, when we suspend habeas corpus. Those kinds of things erode our moral claims that we are acting on behalf of broader universal principles.”

But despite his best attempts — even in 2009 when he signed a directive to shut down the prison — he has faced a series of roadblocks. (The next source for this post)

(2) From The Daily Beast highlights: The White House wants to quickly cut the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. One man is standing in the way: President Obama’s Defense Secretary, Ash Carter.

Mr. Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, hampering the administration’s push to close the detention center by the end of its term.

The White House believes that Carter is unwilling to be accountable for the transfer of Guantánamo detainees and their conduct post-release, even to the point of defying the president’s policy on the detention facility, a White House source told The Daily Beast.

Shutting down Gitmo remains a glaring, unfinished Obama campaign promise, and its closure goes through Carter’s office. Carter’s signature is needed for the release of 52 of the 116 detainees cleared for leaving the detention facility by several government agencies that have reviewed their files.

Current law bars federal funds from being used to transfer Guantánamo Bay prisoners to American soil, meaning that the administration has to finding foreign countries willing to take the detainees. 

The 52 cleared detainees have been approved for release through an extensive interagency process, which includes the Pentagon.

B/L in my view on this aspect: We, all of us, and I suspect many Congress, too about this issue are as “they say:” Want it both ways.

Regarding that view, I always say: Imagine if all those still held at Gitmo were Americans like those we had held captive in North Vietnam – because I remind everyone that even though those at Gitmo are not “POW’s” in the strict legal sense, North Vietnam did consider our captives at the time to be POW’s since North Vietnam always said we were at war, even though our Congress never declared that war to be a “real” war!!! 

How ironic and pathetic is that view? Ponder that thought as you read the original post that now continues from here. Enjoy.

ORIGINAL POST CONTINUES FROM HERE: A Republican-led Senate panel on February 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from our detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, That was a major roadblock in President Obama’s push to close Gitmo.

Now we are in June 2015, and face these two major developments relating to those remaining detainees there and closure of the facility – also, I might add, from a GOP-run Senate:

(1)  Some in the Senate push to limit CIA torture techniques (June 13, 2015):  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has joined a bipartisan team pushing to limit “enhanced or brutal interrogation techniques” rightly labeled torture techniques, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and electric shock that the CIA can use on detainees. McCain along with and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate that would prohibit the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and allow the CIA to only use techniques listed in the Army Field Manual (FM), such as deception, the silent treatment, isolation (and I add: the many others proven effective minus any torture). The amendment would make permanent the executive order signed by President Obama back in 2009 that limited interrogation techniques to those found in the Army FM.

(2)  Over White House objections, the Senate (June 18, 2015) passed a $612 billion defense policy bill that calls for (1) arming Ukraine forces against Russia, (2) prevents another round of base closures, and (3) makes it harder for President Obama to close the prison Gitmo for terror suspects still detained there, some 116 or so. The Senate vote was 71-25 that approved the bill, which Mr. Obama has threatened to veto, and yet must be reconciled with the House version passed earlier.
In addition to that, the White House opposes the provisions that would make it harder for Obama to transfer the remaining 116 detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so he can make good on his pledge to close the military prison.  So, it stays open and there get no justice – which used to the American way … Imagine Americans still held in Hanoi – ouch.
Now, this latest on detainee release from The AP via Yahoo news in part: At least two Guantanamo Bay detainees are using President Obama's own words to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is over — and therefore they should be set free.  
The court cases from detainees captured in Afghanistan ask federal judges to consider at what point a conflict is over and whether Obama, in a written statement last December, crossed that line by saying the American “combat mission in Afghanistan is ending.”  The questions are important since the Supreme Court has said the government may hold prisoners captured during a war for only as long as the conflict in that country continues.
“The lawyers for the detainees are asking the right questions,” says Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at American University, “And what's really interesting is that the government can't quite seem to figure out its answer.” 
The DOJ opposes the detainee challenges, arguing that “… the conflict in Afghanistan has clearly not concluded and the president didn't say that all fighting had ended.” (Or words to that affect). 
As I always say: "Stay tuned – "... or "It aint’ over till it’s over" as Yogi Berra would say. Thanks for stopping by.

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