Keeping to his campaign promises, President Obama issued an Executive Order to close down the global netowrk of CIA prisons, including the detention center at Guantanamo Bay where HVT Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) has spent the time after he was captured sporting a look that even the greenest stylist would refer to as “late Belushi-chic.”
Interestingly enough, the Executive Order could be reversed… and it has some other loopholes. Per the New York Times:
The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.
And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.
And here’s the part that will warm the cockles of every Code Pink protesters heart:
But the orders leave unresolved complex questions surrounding the closing of the Guantánamo prison, including whether, where and how many of the detainees are to be prosecuted. They could also allow Mr. Obama to reinstate the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation operations in the future, by presidential order, as some have argued would be appropriate if Osama bin Laden or another top-level leader of Al Qaeda were captured.
The new White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, briefed lawmakers about some elements of the orders on Wednesday evening. A Congressional official who attended the session said Mr. Craig acknowledged concerns from intelligence officials that new restrictions on C.I.A. methods might be unwise and indicated that the White House might be open to allowing the use of methods other than the 19 techniques allowed for the military.
Details of the directive involving the C.I.A. were described by government officials who insisted on anonymity so they could not be blamed for pre-empting a White House announcement. Copies of the draft order on Guantánamo were provided by people who have consulted with Mr. Obama’s transition team and requested anonymity for the same reason.
Nevertheless, Republicans remain gravely concerned about President Obama’s move to close GTMO with no clear alternative – especially with KSM being readied for trial, and the chance that Usama bin Ladin may eventually be captured. No one was more clear on this issue than GOP Whip Eric Cantor:
“The single most important role of government is to defend our nation and protect innocent Americans from those who seek to destroy our way of life. We all want to protect our troops in combat and our citizens at home, but there are serious questions that must be answered before Guantanamo Bay is closed. For example, how does it make sense to close down the Guantanamo facility before there is a clear plan to deal with the terrorists inside its walls? And what will American soldiers do with the terrorists they capture in the field before a Presidential Commission offers them a clear position?
“Actively moving terrorists inside our borders weakens our security, raises far more questions than it answers and is the wrong track for our nation. Most families neither want nor need hundreds of terrorists seeking to kill Americans in their communities. We need to have a serious, careful, and realistic national discussion about the ramifications of closing Guantanamo Bay.”
For the American people, the issue is one of grave concern. But the population is split – according to a new CNN poll released yesterday:
A new national poll suggests Americans are split over whether the U.S. should close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicated that support for closing the detention facility has increased dramatically since 2005.
Fifty-one percent of those questioned in the survey support the closing of prison at Guantanamo Bay, with 47 percent against the closing. That’s basically a split, when taking into account the survey’s sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Buckle your seatbelts, folks. It is going to be a rough ride.