Reuters: Obama gives up on using executive power to close Gitmo

Reuters is reporting that the Obama administration is reluctantly giving up the idea that it can close the prison at Guantanamo by issuing an executive order under his authority as commander in chief.

The White House has said repeatedly that Obama has not ruled out any options on the Guantanamo center, which has been used to house terrorism suspects since it was set up in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Obama is eager to fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge to close the prison and could still choose to use his commander-in-chief powers, but the option is not being actively pursued, the sources said.

Without executive action, the chances of closing the prison would hinge on convincing a resistant Congress to overturn a long-standing ban on bringing possibly dozens of remaining prisoners to maximum-security prisons in the United States.

White House lawyers and other officials studied the option of overriding the ban but did not develop a strong legal position or an effective political sales pitch in an election year, a source familiar with the discussions said.

"It was just deemed too difficult to get through all of the hurdles that they would need to get through, and the level of support they were likely to receive on it was thought to be too low to generate such controversy, particularly at a sensitive (time) in an election cycle," the source said.

Republicans in Congress are opposed to bringing Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons and have expressed opposition to transfers to other countries over concern that released prisoners will return to militant activities. They have vowed to challenge any potential Obama executive action in court.

At its peak, the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba housed nearly 800 prisoners, becoming a symbol of the excesses of the "war on terror” and synonymous with criticism of detention without trial and accusations of torture. Obama has called it a recruitment tool for terrorists.

The king is in check.

The president knows the bipartisan firestorm that will erupt if he brings any of those terrorists housed at Gitmo to American soil.  Even many Democrats aren't that stupid.  It's not that supermax prisons couldn't handle the terrorists, but giving them the opportunity to radicalize others, as well as adding a dangerous, unstable element to prisons where the worst of the worst are kept, just doesn't make any sense.

We are likely to, at some point, send thousands more troops to Iraq to battle the Islamic State.  That means more terrorist prisoners.  What do we do with these high-value fighters, who may have advance knowledge of attacks on the West?  I don't think we can trust the Iraqis to keep them prisoner.  And the chances of the Iraqi government allowing us to open our own prison on Iraqi soil are slim. 

Guantanamo may yet prove useful in the near future.

Reuters is reporting that the Obama administration is reluctantly giving up the idea that it can close the prison at Guantanamo by issuing an executive order under his authority as commander in chief.

The White House has said repeatedly that Obama has not ruled out any options on the Guantanamo center, which has been used to house terrorism suspects since it was set up in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Obama is eager to fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge to close the prison and could still choose to use his commander-in-chief powers, but the option is not being actively pursued, the sources said.

Without executive action, the chances of closing the prison would hinge on convincing a resistant Congress to overturn a long-standing ban on bringing possibly dozens of remaining prisoners to maximum-security prisons in the United States.

White House lawyers and other officials studied the option of overriding the ban but did not develop a strong legal position or an effective political sales pitch in an election year, a source familiar with the discussions said.

"It was just deemed too difficult to get through all of the hurdles that they would need to get through, and the level of support they were likely to receive on it was thought to be too low to generate such controversy, particularly at a sensitive (time) in an election cycle," the source said.

Republicans in Congress are opposed to bringing Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons and have expressed opposition to transfers to other countries over concern that released prisoners will return to militant activities. They have vowed to challenge any potential Obama executive action in court.

At its peak, the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba housed nearly 800 prisoners, becoming a symbol of the excesses of the "war on terror” and synonymous with criticism of detention without trial and accusations of torture. Obama has called it a recruitment tool for terrorists.

The king is in check.

The president knows the bipartisan firestorm that will erupt if he brings any of those terrorists housed at Gitmo to American soil.  Even many Democrats aren't that stupid.  It's not that supermax prisons couldn't handle the terrorists, but giving them the opportunity to radicalize others, as well as adding a dangerous, unstable element to prisons where the worst of the worst are kept, just doesn't make any sense.

We are likely to, at some point, send thousands more troops to Iraq to battle the Islamic State.  That means more terrorist prisoners.  What do we do with these high-value fighters, who may have advance knowledge of attacks on the West?  I don't think we can trust the Iraqis to keep them prisoner.  And the chances of the Iraqi government allowing us to open our own prison on Iraqi soil are slim. 

Guantanamo may yet prove useful in the near future.