Last week, President Obama signed an order to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within the next year. This would be very good. Gitmo has come to reflect everything that was unseemly about Bush’s foreign policy, and getting past it would be good both for the United States itself, and for the way we areviewed by the rest of the world.
Now, however, comes the hard part: actually getting it done.
More than eight hundred former detainees were released during the Bush Administration. Some have returned to al-Qaida, with one becoming their chief in Yeman, recently appearing in a video. The Pentagon claims that as many as 61 have resumed activity with al-Quida or the Taliban.
The 245 or so that are left are going to be difficult. Some of them are hard to identify, much less determine their innocence or guilt. Some are truly bad men.
Our choices are limited.
We can try some of them in U.S. Federal Court, and put them in Federal prison. Unfortunately, much of the “evidence” the Feds have is dubious in nature, and may be difficult to use.
We can look to send them to another country, but what if they don’t want to go? Or the country doesn’t want them? So far, the European Union has refused to take any of the detainees.
In many cases, if they’re sent back to their home country, they are likely to be executed. It is actually against US law to rendition someone to a country we know will execute that person.
I know, we haven’t exactly worried about violating our own laws the last few years, but the Obama administration is trying, at least.
If we can’t detain them any longer, and we can’t send them home, and we can’t send them to a third party country, do we release them in the US?
Imagine the scenario where a released detainee engages in a terrorist attack on the US. Perhaps he becomes a suicide bomber at a mall or a sporting event.
You think Obama’s first three weeks were bad? That would effectively be the end of his presidency.
I hope we can muddle through to a solution on Guantanamo Bay, but don’t expect it to be easy. Or fast.