During yesterday’s national security speech, President Barack Obama tried to reassure that despite several high profile reversals on the question of detainees and publicly supporting the Senate’s decision to pull funding, he somehow still intended to see the detention center at Guantanamo Bay closed.
But four months after making that promise in the first place, there seems to be little political momentum for the closure, and less and less indication that the Obama Administration is willing to do anything concrete to see the facility closed. A good portion of Congressional Democrats are against it, and nearly all Congressional Republicans are against it. Only a handful, including Rep. Ron Paul (R – TX) seem willing to publicly come out in favor of the closure, most feel the need to qualify that support.
And even if President Obama isn’t willing (yet) to publicly concede that the closure isn’t going to happen the emphasis of his speech was chiefly his personal frustration with being faced with such a decision at all. Scarcely mentioned is the paucity of evidence against many of the detainees, even as a former State Department official concedes that many of them are actually innocent. The focus seems to be on scare-mongering about the potential release of these people, with President Obama sounding almost apologetic when admitting there was nothing he could do about the handful of detainees who have actually managed to fight through the labyrinthine system and secure a court-ordered release.
At the end of the day, keeping the facility open will likely be deemed politically safer, and with a myriad of excuses of why the detainees can’t be moved from extralegal custody on a military base in Cuba into extralegal custody on American soil, it seems unlikely that enough support will coalesce to see the facility shuttered.