I’ve been a chief critic of folks who want to get their flame on regarding the Obama administration for things he has not done yet, but this sure seems like it is worth some attention:
President-elect Barack Obama said this weekend that he does not expect to close Guantanamo Bay in his first 100 days in office.
“I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do,” Obama said in an exclusive “This Week” interview with George Stephanopoulos, his first since arriving in Washington.
“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize,” the president-elect explained. “Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it’s true. And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn’t result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.”
But Obama said unequivocally that it will close. “I don’t want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution. That is not only the right thing to do but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values.”
I don’t doubt that things are more difficult than expected, because there is no telling what sort of hash the Bush administration has made of things. I am sure there is a a jumble of labyrinthian rules and regulations and conflicting guidances that have been cobbled together over the past few years in order to stay one step ahead of the law. The Bush policy of DWTFWW most likely has mangled things a bit. But that doesn’t excuse breaking a promise as critical and as fundamental as closing Gitmo. Gitmo has been a disaster for us, and it needs to be closed.
In the grand scheme of things it won’t matter to me if that is done in 75 days or 100 or 150 days, so long as it is handled rather quickly, but this does seem to suggest that Team Obama is looking for wiggle room or attempting to lower expectations. As such, I think it would be appropriate for folks to generate the appropriate outrage to force Obama to keep his word on this. We didn’t set the 100 day mark for this- he did. Unlike other situations, this is not based on speculation from an unnamed source in the WSJ- this is straight from the horse’s mouth (and no, McCain campaign, I am not calling Obama a horse), and echoes the rhetoric of the craziest of the crazy at NRO.
Also of note, this:
Q: The most popular question on your own website is related to this. On change.gov it comes from Bob Ferdick of New York City and he asks, ‘Will you appoint a special prosecutor ideally Patrick Fitzgerald to independently investigate the greatest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping.’
OBAMA:We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. … My orientation is going to be moving foward.
Of course I understand the need to be forward looking, but I simply reject this notion that we should no nothing about past abuses and possible crimes because we don’t want our intelligence services looking over their shoulders. Of course we do. We have spent decades with an intelligence and foreign policy establishment that has never been held accountable, never had to look over their shoulders, never been required to pay for their sins and their failings, and what do we have to show for it? With the stories of unaccountable and unnamed intelligence agents at the center of the abuses at Gitmo and Abu Gharaib, is a blanket pardon for their sins and crimes the way forward?
I would suggest not. Common sense would suggest not. If team Obama is intent on restoring us to the status of a nation that does not torture, they are just going to have to suck it up and make sure that those who have tortured and those who have committed crimes are brought to justice. Sometimes there are no bi-partisan solutions to these things, because the other side is JUST PLAIN WRONG. There really is no way around it, and there really is no way to make sure the message is sent loud and clear- we do not torture, and those who do will be prosecuted.
*** Update ***
I should probably point out that Obama can’t really signal right now that there will be a special prosecutor, anyway, and needs to be very cagey with his statements. If he sends the signal that he is going to prosecute, Bush will just emulate Tim F.’s favorite governor, Ernie Fletcher, and start issuing blanket pardons.
*** Update #2 ***
Wait a minute- Did Obama actually ever promise to close Gitmo in the first 100 days? Did I just fall for another one of ABC’s special ginned up stories in which they just flat out make shit up and then flame Obama for not adhering to their fantasy? See also- Jake Tapper and cigarette smoke.
*** Update #3 ***
Looks like once again, I have fallen prey to Tapperesque nonsense from ABC. I have scoured the intertrons and can’t find any promise it would be closed in the first 100 days. Around the 11th and 12th of November, there were a slew of stories about how closing Gitmo was a priority, but there was no fixed time.