by Ari Lieberman
The president meets an insurmountable stumbling block.
With the possible exception of Richard Nixon, there is no president in modern history that has shown more disdain for Congress and the constitutional process that Barack Obama. In his zeal to establish a legacy, he has systematically used his executive powers to trample upon the Constitution and the legislative branch of government.
Obama is now fixing his sights on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility housing America’s most dangerous and maniacal foes. He announced his intention to do so on Tuesday, citing a plethora of reasons, each of which lacks merit.
Obama’s announcement coincides with his overall scheme to advance U.S.-Cuba ties. Last week, Obama announced that he would pay a visit to the despotic Castro brothers. That obscene gesture was made contemporaneous with his notice that he would not be attending Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral, demonstrating to all just how morally bankrupt Obama has become.
Since assuming office in 2009, Obama has had an unhealthy obsession with Gitmo and made it a priority to close the facility. He sees Guantanamo as an extension of American imperialism and a hindrance to closer ties with the Muslim world. Closure of the facility would curry favor with the Cubans and an assortment of repressive Muslim regimes.
Of course, to advance his scheme to close Guantanamo, Obama must make the argument in terms that are palatable to the American public. Establishing closer ties with the Muslim world is not high on the list of priorities for the average American constituent, but security is.
Obama outlined four principal reasons for closing Guantanamo;
First, he argued that Gitmo acts as a propaganda and recruitment tool for “terrorists.” Presumably, he means Islamic terrorists. He has difficulty using those two words in the same sentence. Obama’s argument demonstrates just how utterly clueless he really is. The 1983 marine barracks bombing, the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa and the 9-11 attacks, among many other outrages, all preceded Guantanamo. Islamic extremists don’t need an excuse to attack America. The only provocation that is needed is that we exist.
He also argues that maintaining Guantanamo is fiscally irresponsible and drains military resources. This coming from a hardcore, tax and spend Democrat, who does not hesitate to undermine the U.S. military at every turn and throws good money after bad investments – Solyndra as a prime example. In any event, Obama has not established that the transfer of high-risk detainees to the U.S. would reduce costs.
He claims that continued maintenance of Guantanamo harms partnerships with U.S. allies and that the issue of Guantanamo continuously arises in talks with world leaders who express angst over its existence. Obama was careful not to divulge which world leaders he was referring to but we can speculate. Perhaps the anguish came from the corrupt and tyrannical leaders of the House of Saud. That would be somewhat comical. Or maybe it was Obama’s good pal Erdogan of Turkey, whose nation has the dubious distinction of jailing and detaining more journalists than China or Iran. The United States does not need to be lectured by despots.
Lastly, Obama claims that Gitmo runs “contrary to our values” and, “is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of the rule of law.” I’m not really sure what he means by this argument. The detainees at Guantanamo are fed, clothed and otherwise treated humanely and to the extent possible, their religious beliefs are accommodated. Their treatment on U.S. soil would be no different.
Throughout his term of office, Obama has released or transferred nearly 150 Guantanamo detainees. Five high-level detainees were released in a blatantly illegal prisoner exchange for disgraced U.S. army deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. Of concern, is the rate of recidivism and many of those released have either joined or are suspected of joining entities that are hostile to the United States.
Moreover, transfer of high-level detainees to the U.S. mainland, even if legal would create additional security headaches and would impose an additional burden on the states that house them. Those facilities would also create an attractive target for terrorists. Guantanamo conversely, is on an island, completely secure from such threats.
Polls consistently show that the American people are dead-set against Obama’s plan to nix Guantanamo and by wide margins. But even if Obama could somehow sway the populace, he would still face significant legal hurdles to enforcing his convoluted agenda. Indeed, both Secretary of State Ash Carter and Attorney General Loretta Lynch have acknowledged that under current law, Obama’s plan could not be implemented without congressional approval.
But this president has demonstrated a penchant for conducting himself in the most unscrupulous manner. On everything ranging from the Affordable Care Act to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Obama has lied, cajoled, bullied and otherwise circumvented the law to ram his agenda down the America’s throat. With respect to Guantanamo, the White House has already refused to rule out unilateral action to enforce closure of the facility. But as indicated by Obama’s own high-level cabinet members, this is one showdown that the president cannot hope to win without congressional approval, and that prospect seems highly unlikely.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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