Obama’s first mistake

In a post I wrote on election night, I said that “a part of me desperately wants to believe that Obama will be [a] breath of fresh air….[but] I remain profoundly afraid that he’s just not ready for the job.”   I didn’t vote for him, but I hoped that I was wrong about him not being ready, while fearing that I was right.  Today I got my first inkling that I might have been right.

In a front page story written by Joseph Williams and Bryan Bender which appeared in today’s Boston Globe, it was reported how President Obama is apparently ready to sign an executive order suspending trials at Guantanamo Bay, including the trials of the five suspected terrorists who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attacks, as well as closing the facility altogether in a year’s time.  This is not surprising in itself; he said he would do that when he was running for office.

But here’s the sentence that froze the blood in my veins:  “Longtime advisers on the issue said Obama would probably establish a team to conduct a case-by-case review of the evidence against all 245 detainees remaining at the prison with the aim of sending as many as possible back home” (emphasis mine).

Sending “as many as possible back home”?  As in: let them go free?  Can someone please tell me why this would be a good idea?  The people held prisoner in Gitmo aren’t there because of overdue parking tickets, right?

Look, by all means review the cases as expeditiously as possible.  One can certainly argue that this should have been done already.  If you have evidence against them, try them.  If you don’t, release them.  That’s how our system of justice is supposed to work.  And admittedly, Gitmo has not always worked very well.

But it’s the “aim of sending as many as possible back home” part that’s really scaring me here.  My immediate problem with this is that the 245 are there because they are suspected al-Qaeda, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to the United States.  This means it’s a safe bet that they hate America.  I think it’s also a safe bet that the years spent at Gitmo haven’t done much to change that.  So what do you suppose these guys are going to do upon their release?   Well, here’s a wild guess:  they’re probably going to engage in more terrorist activities.

Now I suppose it’s possible that the Globe reporters have somehow gotten it wrong.  There is also talk of relocating these prisoners to Kansas and or Pennsylvania.   This raises another thorny issue:  if we close Gitmo, where do we put them? It seems like nobody wants these guys.

All this really amounts to is a symbolic gesture from Obama (see, world? that bad man George Bush is gone!  It’s OK to like America again!)  Unfortunately, foreign policy isn’t about being liked, it’s about being respected, even feared.  People don’t attack you if they’re afraid of you.  If you have any doubt of that, ask yourself this: when was the last time Russia or China was attacked by terrorists (or anyone else, for that matter)?

I know this all sounds rather bellicose, but that’s just how it is.  Sure, the Bush administration cut corners and was ham fisted in some of its approaches, but stop to consider the difficulty of the job they had.  It would be nice if terrorists would all go around wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  The terrorist’s stock in trade is secrecy.  Piercing that veil often takes extraordinary measures.  While you might not have liked the CIA’s tactics, you can’t argue with the results: there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11.

This is usually the part where the hand wringers start whining about “torture”, which I always find ironic, given the amount of suffering the victims of the 9/11 attacks must have gone through before they died.  Come to think of it, what is the score on that account?  Let’s see, that would be: People Who Died on 9/11–2,985 vs. People Who Have Died at Gitmo: 0.

Yes, torture, in this case water boarding, isn’t very nice.  But last time I checked, neither is blowing up buildings and killing innocent people.  It amazes and disgusts me that some in this country have more sympathy for terrorists than for their victims.

In a nutshell:  if you have information about past or (more importantly) pending terrorist activities, I want our government to get that information out of you, by any means necessary.  Now since I’m basically a softie, I’m all in favor of giving you the chance to volunteer this information, well, voluntarily.  But if it turns out that the only reason you’re giving up this information is because it’s the only way you can think of to stop the pain, I’m fine with that.  Almost 3,000 people (maybe more) died on 9/11.  If subjecting you to some temporary discomfort will prevent that from happening again, then so be it.

Obama is off to a bad start with this one.  If he closes Guantanamo, he has made the world a more dangerous place for all of us.


9 Responses

  1. BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

    A recent report stated that 11% of all released detainees have returned to the battlefield.
    This was day two on the job, and the first 100 days are supposed to be the most significant. I realize he is paying on a debt to his dark overlords on the far left, mostly Soros. Guantanamo is U.S. soil, just as Kansas or Penn., but it is far removed and not an easy target for a jail break. Moving them into CONUS will create a better opportunity for their friends to try and get them out, possibly by extorting prison guards, or holding hostages.
    Releasing them is another problem, as stated earlier, as so many have returned to their wicked ways, and also because many of the detainees have been eligible for release, but no countries would take them.
    As for waterboarding, it was used on three terrorists for a total of 35 seconds, and we are still using intel gained from that brief time. Waterboarding isn’t torture, it is a trick. Someone standing in a window above the 100th floor at the WTC, being roasted with burning Av Gas, preparing to jump to a certain death…that’s torture.
    Unlike you, I looked at B-HO’s default settings as a person, and never listened to him during his campaign(and still don’t), because it is just rhetoric to acquire power. If he is successful, on his terms, we are totally screwed. I do not wish him well, and I hope that, by my standards, he is an abysmal failure.

  2. Sorry, I didn’t mean to post on top of you.

  3. @ Nuke: No problem. Last time I checked, it’s your blog. ;>)

    @N2L: We actually agree on this issue, although it might be difficult to see that judging from the tone of your comment.

    You’re right about waterboarding. Maybe I should have put that in the post, but it was getting long as it is, so I just sidestepped that issue. But you’re right: water boarding is just an illusion; no one has ever died from water boarding.

    But it IS highly effective. When I was researching this post, I read how the Navy SEALS used to used it as part of their training, but stopped doing so because the trainees would crack within 30 seconds: bad for moral.

    One of the suspected terrorists actually lasted over two minutes before cracking. According to the article I read, the interrogators were amazed that he lasted that long.


  4. I just started “Inside Gitmo“, by Lt Col Gordon Cucullu.

    “despite what the public has heard, these are not innocent goatherds, but dedicated jihadists, whose overriding goal — as they themselves candidly say — is to kill Americans.

    Confined behind the Gitmo wire are at least one physician and two pharmacists (all of whom practiced in America), several pilots, more than one electrical engineer (one MS from Purdue), financial experts (2 from London School of Economics), and a large number of graduates from European, Egyptian, Saudi, and other universities… experts at money laundering, public relations, and alQada propagandists in print, video, internet media, and a wide variety of other specialties….”

    Too bad the Obama people already have all the answers.

  5. Sorry if my tone seemed terse, this is an area of discussion that I have fought many battles on other sites.
    Yes, there were two other terrorists that were “tricked” into talking, and I forget which one it was that lasted so long. KSM gave it up within seconds.
    As for the use of this trick in training, it is still a part of S.E.R.E. training for naval aviators, and don’t forget, code stink and their friends use it all the time in their agitprop, including on the steps of Congress, so it can’t be as horrific as some would claim. Many on the left want to equate the way we have used it, with the way the Japanese did or the way we did in Viet Nam. It shares the name, but not the method.
    In any event, claiming on day two he was shutting it down, and ending aggressive interrogation methods, must have sent a huge sigh of relief to our enemies. As for the rest of his agenda, economic and social, we have yet to see if the equivalent destructiveness will follow.
    I’m betting it will.

  6. Obama is smart on so many levels for ordering the closure of Guantanamo. It has been a long time coming

  7. Obama is smart on so many levels for ordering the closure of Guantanamo

    On a sub-level, perhaps.

  8. Damn, I don’t care if the military stakes Gitmo prisoners out on fire ant beds and throws ’em naked into a room with pissed off Africanized bees.

    Neither do most of my fellow citizens, I suspect.

  9. well coffee, there is a big difference in saying your going to do something, and actually doing it. He was smart enough to give himself some time to pull this rabbit out of his hat, and I will give him credit for that. Frankly, I don’t see how he can do it without endangering us.

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