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White House Counsel to Lose Job as Gitmo Scapegoat

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posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 09:54 PM

Obama's Gitmo blame game

Greg Craig, the top in-house lawyer for President Barack Obama, is getting the blame for botching the strategy to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison by January — so much so that he’s expected to leave the White House in short order.
But sources familiar with the process believe Craig is being set-up as the fall guy and say the blame for missing the deadline extends well beyond him.
Instead, it was a widespread breakdown on the political, legislative, policy and planning fronts that contributed to what is shaping up as one of Obama’s most high-profile setbacks, these people say.

The White House misread the congressional mood – as it found out in May, when it failed to provide a plan for closure and asked for $40 million in funding for the “program.” The Senate voted 90-6 against funds. And the White House misread the public mood – as roughly half of Americans disagree with Obama’s approach.

“The administration came in reading there to be wide support for closing Guantanamo at home and abroad, and I think it misread that attitude,” said Matthew Waxman, a Columbia law professor who held Defense and State Department positions on detainee policy.

In short, Obama assumed that the "anti-anything-Bush" attitude they counted upon in the campaign for free reign to make promises they could not deliver on. Since they'd been counseled by Bush administration officials that it would be neither quick nor easy, Obama and his aides simply lied instead, trusting on the hype and euphoria to carry the administration past tough questions and broken promises.

The White House declined to make Craig available for an interview, or discuss the Gitmo deliberations in detail, but several allies and even some critics scoffed at suggestions that Craig bears the main responsibility for the missteps.
“This clearly was a decision that had the full support of the entire national security team,” said Ken Gude, who tracks Guantanamo issues for the liberal Center for American Progress think tank. “It’s typical Washington that someone has their head on the chopping block, but it’s ridiculous that it’s Craig.”

“The implication that this was the brainchild of the White House counsel is not really credible,” said Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First.

When Obama signed a series of executive orders on Guantanamo during his second full day in office, what grabbed attention was not his promise to close the prison but his pledge to do it within one year.

During the presidential campaign, Obama talked almost daily about closing Guantanamo, but he rarely offered a timeline. His Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), spoke in a far greater specificity, proposing to move the Gitmo prisoners to Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas.

Some Bush administration officials contend that the one-year timeline was driven by a naïveté on the part of Obama’s aides.

“To a certain extent, they had drunk a lot of the far-left Kool-aid: that everybody, or most people, at Guantanamo were innocent and shouldn’t be there, and the Bush administration was not working very hard to resolve these issues, and that the issues were fairly easy to resolve once adults who were really committed to doing something about it in charge,” said one Bush official who met with Obama’s aides during the transition on Gitmo. “It became clear to me they had not really done their homework on the details.”

But even back on Jan. 22, 2009, the same day Obama signed the orders, Craig acknowledged some of the difficulties involved – including that some of the detainees can never be tried, a problem Craig called “difficult” and “most controversial.”

Craig’s backers contend that, if that was the White House’s key misjudgment, other top officials share responsibility for the breakdown.
“It seems very unlikely to me that Greg Craig, by himself, engineered a DOD appropriations request,” one lawyer close to Craig said.

Looking back, everyone should've seen this coming. Within hours of Obama signing the orders, both Craig and McCain warned of a backlash and said the time frame the president set out would be “very difficult” to achieve

So, if THIS innocent aide gets the axe and a ruined reputation for Obama's broken promise and Orders on Gitmo, who gets it next for the others?


posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 10:01 PM
The Associated Press saw the stirrings for this last month as disgruntled aides began to fear the repercussions of another broken promise.

"AP: Gitmo Not Closing in January 2010"


posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 11:03 PM
I don't understand why closing Gitmo is so hard. The "Congress won't approve the money" excuse doesn't wash. It costs money to keep a base open, not to close it. Wasn't it in the '90s that they closed and consolidated a lot of bases to save money?

And I don't buy the "What are we going to do with these people?" excuse either. If they've done something wrong, present your evidence of that wrong-doing in open court and allow them a fair trial. If they are found guilty, sentence them. If not, let them go. It's as simple as that. That's the way things are supposed to be done in the United States of America.

Sir Richard Francis Burton said it best, "He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws." When we decide, as a nation, that certain principles are right, just, and true, we should stick to that. If we say that we believe in things like the Geneva Convention, habeus corpus, and fair trials for the accused, we shouldn't backtrack on that because the situation suits us. You have to do the right thing, even if it's not in your own best interests.

As a nation, the 9-11 attacks cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. We can recover from that. We could recover from a hundred 9-11 attacks and survive as a nation if we had to. But when we abandon the principles on which this nation was founded, that's when the United States of America ceases to exist, and is replaced by something far uglier.

posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 11:44 PM
reply to post by VictorVonDoom
Generally, I think you're exactly right. If Obama had presented a cogent plan to Congress, he could've justified why he needed the money, instead of an excuse for failure.

He didn't, and for once, Congress said, "No."

I still also have faith in our justice system to a certain degree.

If we say that we believe in things like the Geneva Convention, habeus corpus, and fair trials for the accused, we shouldn't backtrack on that because the situation suits us. You have to do the right thing, even if it's not in your own best interests.

The problem at Gimo is that many of the remaining 225 were captured on the battlefields and elsewhere by the military. Their home countries do not want them back. It's hard enough placing an orphan, so it must be harder with an accused terrorist.

Since these are not citizens, nor are they are in law enforcement custody, the criminal justice system does not have jurisdiction. They are in the custody of the military.

Many will NEVER be tried, because the U.S. is using a "State Secrets" doctrine that denies them access to evidence or hearings.

I think most people KNEW this wasn't going to happen overnight, much less a year, to sort out. Many denied what they knew and just hoped no one was watching or keeping track of promises and Executive Orders.


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