Nearly two years ago, on May 21, 2009, President Obama called the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba “quite simply a mess, a misguided experiment.” That was then and this is now. Guantanamo Bay is open for business for the foreseeable future. What is most ironic is that when he was but a Congressman, Barack Obama decried the imperial presidency of George W. Bush and talked about the power of Congress to keep Executive authority in check. Now, having been denied the funds to bring terror trials to American soil, Barack Obama’s administration decries the power of Congress over the Executive Branch.
Attorney General Eric Holder said he knew better than Congress:
Do I know better than them? Yes. I respect their ability to disagree but they should respect that this is an executive branch function, a unique executive branch function.
Sure sounds a lot worse than what Liberals whined about George W. Bush, doesn’t it?
Very few people wanted alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed visiting New York City and being tried in civilian court. When Congress was firmly under Democratic control in December of 2009 it inserted into a bill which became law the defunding of civilian trials or transferring inmates to U.S. prisons. Americans pressured their Congressional representatives to prevent the Executive Branch from bringing these men to America. Congress, for once, did what the people wanted, defying the president.
With trials set to resume by the U.S. military it is unlikely Gitmo will be closed any time soon. In fact, now that the issue appears to be settled the detention facility looks to remain open as long as the War on Terror is in effect. And so brings to a close a two year whine by the Obama administration that the camp is a recruitment tool for budding terrorists around the world. Obviously the majority of Congress rejected this theory if they sent the bill to Obama’s desk and, apparently, the president himself must have changed his mind or why else would he have signed it into law?
Much of what President Bush did in establishing procedures to handle Man Created Disasterists aka Islamic Radicals, President Obama has maintained. That’s okay, a person is allowed to change their mind, especially once they sit in the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The problem, however, is that before he became president, Barack Obama did not simply disagree with Bush’s policies he morally objected to them and said they tarnished the reputation of the United States. Like most things Obama said on the campaign trail, he didn’t think things through and leave himself a way out if he’d go on to become president.
One could even say his words were used as a terrorist recruitment tool.
Obama supporters are already spinning this as keeping GITMO open is not his fault, that he was forced into it by Congress. In March of 2009 Obama issued this statement concerning GITMO and military trials:
“I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system — including Article III courts — to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened,” the president said in a statement. Article III courts are military commissions.
If Obama was honestly morally opposed to military trials it is doubtful he would have issued such a strong statement. Perhaps on the campaign trail Obama did believe what he was saying or, maybe, he was just feeding his Liberal base what they wanted to hear so they wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton who sounded much more Bushesque on the topics of Executive Branch power and the War on Terror.
The press has largely been silent on this dramatic reversal of Obama’s fortunes. Imagine if George W. Bush had faced a showdown with Congress over terror trials and he lost. We’d likely hear how the Constitution and the will of the people triumphed over the evil Dick Cheney and George W. Bush’s oppressive, un-American tendencies.
While we can feel fortunate that, in the end, the proper way to handle captured terrorists has prevailed, Obama certainly put the country through multi-year battle over what turned out to be mostly baseless rhetoric.