Speaking today to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the administration’s first comments on the prospect of closing Guantanamo Bay in quite some time, and the news was not good.
Despite President Obama officially promising that the closure would happen by January 2010, and despite officials forever insisting that the president plans to eventually keep that promise, Gates conceded that the odds the facility will ever close are “very, very low.”
Gates cited two reasons for keeping the facility open, both that a large portion of Congress is vigorously opposed to the notion in principle and because the administration doesn’t want to release a number of the detainees, despite never charging many of them with anything. He insisted the US would be “selective” in releasing those detainees.
Gates has long been amongst the most honest about the policy of virtually eternal continuation of the facility. and his comments were largely in keeping with those he made in 2008, that the US is “stuck” keeping the facility, and the extralegal detainees who will never be released or charged with anything, for the long term.