And, they were right:
- The current President of the United States campaigned on a platform that included the closing of the prison for international terrorists at Gitmo.
- Gitmo is, in fact, still open. But they’ll get to it Real Soon Now (SPOILER WARNING: they won’t).
- The Right noted at the time that Gitmo was going to remain open. On more than one occasion. We, in fact, told people time again and again and again and again that Barack Obama was not going to close Gitmo. Which means that nobody really has an excuse for being surprised.
One of the minor points of record that Barack Obama is going to be reminded of in the next few months.
The Obama campaign has decided on a new campaign slogan – “Forward”.
As you might imagine, the right is having a ball with that on Twitter under the hashtag #FORWARD.
You might want to join in the fun.
That’s certainly been one of the major reasons that candidate and then President Obama has cited for closing the facility. But the Weekly Standard did an analysis of some 34 al Qaeda messages and found that Guantanamo was barely mentioned, and when it was, it was at worst a neutral topic.
So why is this important enough to talk about. Because of the emphasis Obama places on that excuse to close the facility in the face of facts that just don’t support the premise. Here’s what he recently said [emphasis added]:
Obviously, we haven’t gotten it closed. And let me just step back and explain that the reason for wanting to close Guantanamo was because my number one priority is keeping the American people safe.
One of the most powerful tools we have to keep the American people safe is not providing al Qaeda and jihadists recruiting tools for fledgling terrorists. And Guantanamo is probably the number one recruitment tool that is used by these jihadist organizations. And we see it in the websites that they put up. We see it in the messages that they’re delivering.
But when we turn to the actual 34 messages that discuss recruiting, that isn’t at all the case. Here are the results of key word searches in those messages:
Guantanamo is mentioned a mere 7 times in the 34 messages we reviewed. (Again, all 7 of those references appear in just 3 of the 34 messages.)
By way of comparison, all of the following keywords are mentioned far more frequently: Israel/Israeli/Israelis (98 mentions), Jew/Jews (129), Zionist(s) (94), Palestine/Palestinian (200), Gaza (131), and Crusader(s) (322). (Note: Zionist is often paired with Crusader in al Qaeda’s rhetoric.)
Naturally, al Qaeda’s leaders also focus on the wars in Afghanistan (333 mentions) and Iraq (157). Pakistan (331), which is home to the jihadist hydra, is featured prominently, too. Al Qaeda has designs on each of these three nations and implores willing recruits to fight America and her allies there. Keywords related to other jihadist hotspots also feature more prominently than Gitmo, including Somalia (67 mentions), Yemen (18) and Chechnya (15).
In fact the Weekly Standard states uncategorically that there is no evidence in those 34 messages that Gitmo is a recruiting tool, much less “probably the number one recruitment tool” used by al Qaeda.
So, what are they about? The usual stuff:
Instead, al Qaeda’s leaders repeatedly focus on a narrative that has dominated their propaganda for the better part of two decades. According to bin Laden, Zawahiri, and other al Qaeda chieftains, there is a Zionist-Crusader conspiracy against Muslims. Relying on this deeply paranoid and conspiratorial worldview, al Qaeda routinely calls upon Muslims to take up arms against Jews and Christians, as well as any Muslims rulers who refuse to fight this imaginary coalition.
This theme forms the backbone of al Qaeda’s messaging – not Guantanamo.
So what’s going on with Gitmo? The usual spin designed to make the place seem much worse than it is with an eye on closing it for some less than pragmatic reason (I mention that because Obama is supposed to be such a pragmatist). The messages reviewed by the WS are all of those which are known to have been delivered since January 2009. Obviously, Gitmo has a small and barely noticeable effect on anything al Qaeda does. Touting it as “probably the number one recruitment tool” of al Qaeda is false and misleading. It implies closing Guantanamo will hurt such recruiting. Obviously that’s just not the case.
Nope, this is about a silly campaign promise made with little knowledge or information about the enemy we’re fighting or what is being used to recruit jihadists into the organization. It would be one thing coming from some blogger out in North Dakota. It’s another to hear it said by the man who is charged with our national security. It doesn’t give one much of a warm fuzzy.
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In another poll that Democrats will do their best to ignore, the majority in favor of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terrorist detainees has melted away.
The significance of the poll isn’t that the majority now favors leaving the facility open – although that certainly has some significance. Instead, it is found in who has changed their mind about GITMO. Hint: It isn’t Republicans or Democrats:
Attitudes about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have changed dramatically since President Barack Obama took office, according to a new national poll.
Support for closing the facility has dropped 12 points over the past 14 months, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates.
Shortly before Obama’s inauguration, 51 percent of Americans said they thought the facility in Cuba should be closed. Now that number is down to 39 percent, and six in ten believe the United States should continue to operate Guantanamo.
The poll, released Sunday, suggests independent voters are contributing to the 12 point overall drop.
The big change? Among independents. 75% of independents now want the facility kept open. Previously it was about a 50-50 split. That’s a dramatic shift.
CNN, who commissioned the poll, doesn’t advance a reason for the change, but I’d venture to say that many independents have reconsidered their stance when they realized that the claim that GITMO was a recruiting tool for al Qaeda was so much over-blown campaign rhetoric. That regardless of where the prison is, the fact that we were detaining terrorists is the recruiting tool, not the prison facility itself. And, with the talk of moving these dangerous inmates to facilities inside the US – bringing a possible threat of terrorism to US communities – they realized the security benefit of keeping the facility off shore.
Not that any of those excellent reasons for leaving Guantanamo open will penetrate the close-minded thinking of those in the administration or anything. But it is another example of an issue in which independents are deserting the Democrats.
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The Guantanamo Bay circus continues and comes full circle:
The trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed won’t be held in lower Manhattan and could take place in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, sources said last night.
Administration officials said that no final decision had been made but that officials of the Department of Justice and the White House were working feverishly to find a venue that would be less expensive and less of a security risk than New York City.
The back-to-the-future Gitmo option was reported yesterday by Fox News and was not disputed by White House officials.
So much for that stale “fierce moral urgency” bit. I don’t think anyone believes that campaign slogan any more.
Funny how this administration, which claimed to have the moral high ground on the issue of Gitmo, now understands why it exists and why military tribunals were the preferred method of dealing with terrorists who’ve declared war on us.
Heck of a job, Eric.
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I think perhaps the promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – a supposed symbol of American shame – and the subsequent inability to do so is symbolic of how inept, to this point, this administration has been. President Obama, while a candidate, had a guaranteed applause line each time he promised to close the facility. The left had so thoroughly demonized it that it was prime red-meat for every campaign rally. And, in fact, Obama signed an executive order on his first day in office ordering it closed.
And here we are, a year later, with the facility still open and the administration still dithering about what to do with the inmates. In the meantime, the American public has come to realize that it is the inmates that are the problem, not where the inmates are incarcerated. Closing Gitmo doesn’t solve a thing. In fact, the public realizes, it forces some very unappetizing choices – like housing those we deem to dangerous to our country to release not in some isolated prison on a island far away, but in the heartland of America.
That realization has sparked some pretty heavy push-back from the public as it has come to realize those truths:
Americans remain opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and moving some of the terrorist suspects being held there to U.S. prisons: 30% favor such actions, while 64% do not. These attitudes could present a significant roadblock for President Obama at a time when he seeks congressional approval to move terrorist suspects from Guantanamo to a converted state prison in northwestern Illinois.
You see, hollering about how we had to close Gitmo during the campaign and then making it a priority on his first day of office then ran up against the “then what” question. And, as is obvious, they – the campaign and Obama- hadn’t considered the “then what” question. They had no plan. It is indicative of how poorly prepared they were to assume office (they apparently thought that the “King” would sign a “proclamation” and the “serfs” would make it so) and how little they understood of how things really work. Closing Guantanamo Bay has gone from being a symbol of “hope and change” to being an albatross around the administration’s neck. No matter what they do now, it is most likely to be unfavorably received by a majority of Americans and provide campaign fodder for a future Republican opponent.
Gitmo, in a nutshell, characterizes this administration in so many ways. Naive, unprepared, leaderless and yet arrogant. That is not a good combination for a successful presidency and unsurprisingly, so far, it hasn’t been one.
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Frankly, that’s precisely what’s going on with the developing situation in Iran. Our President is both inexperienced and naive, and in the world of foreign relations, that can be a fatal mix.
As I pointed out about Gitmo below, the president hadn’t done his homework when he announced his pre-election decision to close the prison there. And, as mentioned, his decision has been a fiasco.
Iran is the same sort of problem for him. He announced a policy of engagement as though nothing of the sort had ever been put forward before. And, in so announcing his policy, he apparently didn’t understand or chose to overlook the fact that two of the regimes about which he spoke (Iran and NoKo) had absolutely no real desire to engage him.
Part of the problem is Obama believes the hubris about his abilities. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime doesn’t and has no real reason or necessity to actually engage him. Professor Faoud Ajami takes Obama to task over his performance so far:
Mr. Obama may believe that his offer to Iran is a break with a hard-line American policy. But nothing could be further from the truth. In 1989, in his inaugural, George H.W. Bush extended an offer to Iran: “Good will begets good will,” he said. A decade later, in a typically Clintonian spirit of penance and contrition, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came forth with a full apology for America’s role in the 1953 coup that ousted nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.
Iran’s rulers scoffed. They had inherited a world, and they were in no need of opening it to outsiders. They were able to fly under the radar. Selective, targeted deeds of terror, and oil income, enabled them to hold their regime intact. There is a Persian pride and a Persian solitude, and the impact of three decades of zeal and indoctrination. The drama of Barack Obama’s election was not an affair of Iran.
Obama obviously thinks more of his abilities to persuade than are proven on the world stage. Again hubris. The magic “Cairo speech” which is assumed to have done in a week or so what wasn’t possible for decades in the region:
That ambivalence at the heart of the Obama diplomacy about freedom has not served American policy well in this crisis. We had tried to “cheat” — an opening to the regime with an obligatory wink to those who took to the streets appalled by their rulers’ cynicism and utter disregard for their people’s intelligence and common sense — and we were caught at it. Mr. Obama’s statement that “the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as had been advertised” put on cruel display the administration’s incoherence. For once, there was an acknowledgment by this young president of history’s burden: “Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.” No Wilsonianism on offer here.
Mr. Obama will have to acknowledge the “foreignness” of foreign lands. His breezy self-assurance has been put on notice. The Obama administration believed its own rhetoric that the pro-Western March 14 coalition in Lebanon had ridden Mr. Obama’s coattails to an electoral victory. (It had given every indication that it expected similar vindication in Iran.)
But the claim about Lebanon was hollow and reflected little understanding of the forces at play in Lebanon’s politics. That contest was settled by Lebanese rules, and by the push and pull of Saudi and Syrian and Iranian interests in Lebanon.
Mr. Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo did not reshape the Islamic landscape. I was in Saudi Arabia when Mr. Obama traveled to Riyadh and Cairo. The earth did not move, life went on as usual. There were countless people puzzled by the presumption of the entire exercise, an outsider walking into sacred matters of their faith.
As someone said, it’s 3am and Obama is continuing to hit the snooze button. He needs to learn very quickly, and especially when it comes to foreign affairs, that you can’t vote “present” when you’re the President of the United States.
In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss discuss the president’s announcement of legal indefinite detention, and the economy.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
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Al Qaeda having difficulty establishing sleeper cells in the US? Not a problem – let the Attorney General help:
European justice ministers met with Mr. Holder earlier this week and pressed for details on how many Guantanamo prisoners the U.S. planned to release domestically, as part of any agreement for allies to accept detainees. Mr. Holder said U.S. officials would work to respond to the questions European officials have over U.S. Guantanamo plans.
For “people who can be released there are a variety of options that we have and among them is the possibility is that we would release them into this country,” Mr. Holder said. “That process is ongoing and we’ve not made any determinations or made any requests of anybody at this point.”
Seriously, anyone – sound like a better option than keeping Gitmo open and these prisoners there until and unless another country can be found to take them?