Is Obama's Urge to Close Guantanamo Hampering Intelligence Gathering?

President Obama wants to shut down Guantanamo; so what does he propose to do with the newly-captured Guantanamo-class detainees?

Case in point: the raid on Osama's compound. Osama got shot dead -- apparently to deny him an opportunity during a trial to revile America and rally his cohorts; and as the symbol and the figurehead of al-Qaeda, presumably no longer involved in operational planning, he may not have had much operational intelligence to reveal.

His courier and host, who was also killed during the raid, is, however, an entirely different matter. As the capstone of the al-Qaeda communications network, he could have supplied invaluable information if taken alive and interrogated, information on al-Qaeda's communication hubs and spokes that could have lead to the other al-Qaeda figures.

Yet, all that wealth of intelligence was lost forever when he died.

One wonders why he was killed. Was it indeed because of the prolonged, forty-minute long firefight, despite the best effort to capture him alive? We know now, however, that the resistance of disoriented, just-awoken inhabitants was weak (at least bin Laden's resistance consisted of not raising his hands in surrender), and the bulk of the time was taken by sweeping the compound for Osama's flash drives, computers and documents.

So was the courier's killing a deliberate decision of the Obama administration, despite the fact that he could have yielded invaluable intelligence, so as not to get enmeshed in politically unpalatable debate on Guantanamo, interrogation techniques, and terrorism trials?

One cannot be sure that such was not the case. Obama had to weigh two options: take him alive -- and you have to send him to Guantanamo, thus expanding it instead of shutting it down, which may be good for the war effort, but very, very bad politically; or just kill him, to avoid political complications, though it would not be as good for the country.

But as we know full well, politicians' interests and those of the country are two very different, and at times opposite, things. President Obama informed us of this fact in as many words when time came for him to explain his vote -- while a senator -- to oppose the raising of the national debt ceiling when, in his own judgment, it would have been better for the country that he voted for it.

It was on Obama's watch that Osama got tracked, and he certainly did the best he could to turn it to his political advantage.

As to the good of the country -- as we already know from Mr. Obama, that is a very different matter indeed.