Obama Won’t Get The Satisfaction of Closing Gitmo, But Maybe Trump Should

One promise President Obama made on his 2009 inauguration day was to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although he normalized relations with the communist dictatorship, Obama never realized his dream of closing Gitmo.

The Washington Post is reporting that Obama won’t get it done before January 20.

Good. The people who are there, around 60 of them, are the worst people in the world, and should not be released. Obama is going to release or transfer as many as possible (up to 19) before his term ends. But it would be galling for Obama to have Trump finally close Gitmo after Obama failed.

I am not siding with liberals who think Gitmo is some gulag or political prison. It’s not. The ACLU is bleating about a “legal and moral blight.” It’s not a blight to keep terrorist leaders from planning more attacks, is it?

But maybe Trump will decide to close it. At the time George W. Bush loaded the prison with up to 700 detainees, it was sorely needed. Now it could have outlived its usefulness.

Obama, however, should not get the satisfaction of closing it after what he did. When Obama secretly, and without informing Congress (required by law) released the “Taliban 5” in exchange for accused deserter U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, they received a hero’s welcome in Qatar. Who knows if they ended up doing more dirty work since their 2014 release?

One person who may know is retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly ran Southern Command in 2014, and was at Gitmo when the transfer occurred.

“It was a dicey transfer” because the reporters and others were nearby the airfield waiting for their transport back to the United States just as the five Taliban prisoners were flown off the base to Qatar in exchange for the release of Bergdahl, according to Kelly. “All of us were down there — we were doing the transfer and we never got caught,” he said.

Between Kelly, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis at the Department of Defense, Rex Tillerson at State, and Jeff Sessions at Justice, it’s likely Gitmo will receive a very stern, facts-based review before any recommendations are made to Trump. (That is, provided all these men are confirmed by the Senate.)

If the prison needs to remain open, then by all means, keep it open for 40 or so prisoners. But I suspect they may decide to close it.

Are the 60 we hold there so dangerous that even after more than a decade, they can’t be moved into the continental U.S. prison system? If there were going to be homegrown retaliatory terror attacks because of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wouldn’t it have happened already?

I know it would invite a firestorm of “told you so’s” from the left if Trump closed Gitmo, but it would also be delicious to see it done by Republicans after Obama couldn’t keep his promise. Then again, Trump may decide to begin shipping prisoners into Gitmo again.

There are obviously some bad actors there, known as “forever prisoners.” Perhaps Congress can come up with some way to deal with these non-U.S. citizens in a faster, more efficient manner. Either they’re enemy combatants in war, or they’re criminals. Far greater minds than mine have examined this problem for years and we don’t have a solution.

I honestly hope Trump closes Gitmo, just to show it can be done and Obama couldn’t do it. It will be one more failure for the Obama legacy.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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