White House Blames Defense Secretary for Not Closing Gitmo

Pentagon Chief Was Supposed to Move Faster in Transferring Those Cleared for Release

After taking office in 2009, President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within the year. Six-plus years later, the facility is no closer to being closed, and the White House is looking for a new scapegoat. Right now, that seems to be Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Officials say that Carter’s predecessor Chuck Hagel was ousted in no small part because he wasn’t doing much to close the site, and Carter was selected because they figured he was more supportive of the plan. Yet the White House is complaining Carter is even slower in releasing people cleared for release, noting Hagel released 44 in two years, and Carter has only released six overall.

The Pentagon insists that Carter is as committed to closing the site as Obama is, and just wants to do so “responsibly,” which at the current rate suggests it won’t be closed at all before the end of Obama’s term in office.

In this regard, it may be fair to say Carter is exactly as committed as President Obama, since he made no real efforts to close the site back in 2009, and then let the matter drop for several years after Congress started complaining about the idea. The recent insistence that Obama is once again extremely serious about closing Gitmo comes, conveniently, with no real chance it will happen, and someone else to blame.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.