The mainstream media is caught up in Chris Matthews-style leg-tingling excitement over Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. Obama is certainly “making history.” His accomplishments so far include: championing a plan that wraps socialism up with a lot of pork and calls itself a stimulus, overturning the Mexico City Policy and thus providing for world-wide abortion services at U.S. government expense, closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, calling out Rush Limbaugh and giving what was probably the worst speech of his political career. Michelle Obama’s accomplishments include wearing several gaudy and unflattering outfits that the media adored.
Obama signed an executive order (ironically, the exact tool the Democrats accused Bush of abusing when he created Gitmo) on January 22 which will close the Gitmo prison within a year. His decision to close the prison is controversial. John McCain, who since his defeat has morphed back into the true maverick that the Republicans hate and The New York Times loves, made a statement supporting the decision. Press secretary Robert Gibbs took a hounding from members of the White House press corps who wanted simple information such as what Obama planned to do with the 245 Gitmo detainees. Without Gitmo, the US government has several options, but none of them are promising. They could send these suspected terrorists back to their home countries, but many foreign governments like Yemen will not accept them. We also do not want them being sent back to their home countries, whose porous borders and relaxed security will let them easily rejoin Al-Qaeda. The Pentagon recently estimated that as many as 61 former prisoners of Gitmo are currently involved in Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. Former Gitmo detainee Said Ali al-Shihri is now heading the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda. The day after Obama signed the order that closed Gitmo, an Al-Qaeda video with two former detainees hit the Internet news sites. The detainees could also be tried in military courts or civilian courts, but these options pose two main problems. To treat these terrorists as regular criminals rather than criminals of war is wrong and ineffective. It was ineffective under President Clinton and there is no reason to think it will succeed in a post-9/11 world. We shouldn’t have to grant the rights of our Constitution to international terrorists who are trying to destroy what our Constitution represents. And even if we were to house terrorists in federal prisons, there is the simple logistical problem of “not in my backyard.” No congressman is going to welcome Hambali (the Osama bin Laden of South East Asia) to his district’s prison.
Liberals have been dying to close down Guantanamo Bay Detention Center for years. Human Rights activists have been hounding the Bush administration since the prison opened. The prisoners are already allowed Korans and prayer rugs, but liberals won’t be satisfied until they are read Miranda rights, have a government-subsidized attorney, get to watch Oprah and play pick up games of basketball. Obama is apparently so concerned that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, has been treated poorly, that he halted his trial, along with the other Gitmo trials currently underway. Now, Mohammad and his friends will be sent off to, oh, that’s right, Obama won’t answer that. Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs, who has quickly developed the skill of distracting the White House press corps with his witty sense of humor while he searches for the party line, diffused most of the media’s direct questions about Gitmo. He also refused to say whether or not President Obama considers the nation to be in a continuous “War on Terror.” Gibbs can smile and crack jokes all he wants, but at the end of the day, the American people have a right to know whether or not the president thinks we are in a war or not.
The detention center at Guantanamo Bay presents a difficult situation. Of course, it would be great if all people could have fair trials and if no innocent people were detained. But it would also be great if there weren’t terrorists. Obama might not like to use the phrase “War on Terror,” but terrorism is not just a matter of phraseology. Obama, of course, doesn’t have a problem with terrorists. He is, after all, a close friend of William Ayers, the former weatherman who bombed the Capitol and the Pentagon. Maybe after his release, Hambali will move to D.C. so that Obama can start saying Hambali is “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”