I am very pleased with the forceful words and tone that President Obama used today to describe the need for closing Guantanamo. ( I have a few words of my own on this matter following the summation of his speech below.) In his speech that makes me darn proud that this man sits in the White House and makes the decisions, Obama used logic to pry open the doors of failed foreign policy in order to shape new avenues to address the needs of the nation.
The US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay is a “misguided experiment” and a “mess” that must be cleaned up, US President Barack Obama has said.
Mr Obama said it had weakened national security and rallied enemies of the US, but he was determined to close it by January 2010 whilst respecting US law.
Mr Obama said the administration was reviewing every one of the 240 detainees still held at Guantanamo and considering what to do with them.
“We are treating these cases with the care and attention that the law requires and our security demands,” he said, describing the Bush-era approach as “poorly-planned, [and] haphazard”.
Explaining the basis of his administration’s approach to terrorist suspects and Guantanamo Bay, Mr Obama said the existence of the prison camp probably “created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained”.
He conceded that following through on his pledge to close Guantanamo would be “difficult and complex”, but insisted it was possible.
“As president, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. Our security interests won’t permit it. Our courts won’t allow it.”
But he offered a direct answer to critics who have said his plans would release potentially dangerous people onto the streets of the US.
“We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.”
Let me add a few thoughts of my own to those that the President made today.
Over the past weeks I have heard this ridiculous fear that the prisoners from Gitmo would be released here in the United States. I have seen with my own eyes otherwise sane people make the most outlandish claims. The idea of “not in my backyard” attitude has dominated talk of detainee releases. Somehow some folks think the prisoners are about to be released so they can wander the streets and create mayhem. They are not going to be released.
First they would need to break out of the prison, and since they would be in the most hardened of institutions that would be impossible. Since the Department of Homeland Security has spent years now devising ways of preventing terrorist attacks in far more densely populated and vulnerable locations than the ones discussed for housing the prisoners, I think the fear of a terrorist attack as a result of placing the prisoners here is also a lark.
There is a need to close Gitmo, and do so as soon as possible. The President understands that, the world community understands the same and wants it, as do millions of Americans such as myself who care about the foreign policy of this nation. In addition there is the moral wrong that this place has brushed our nation with by its very construction. The rule of law, and the higher standards we state as our nation’s underpinning, must again guide us.