President Reverses Course on Guantanamo

This has already been out since this morning, but it turns out President Obama has decided to continue military tribunals and, as has received the most attention, continue to operate the Guantanamo Bay facility.

I don’t know much about the courts – frankly, I find the study of them interminable – but to me it seems odd that we’re even viewing him as responsible for this level of decision-making. I was under the impression that it was entirely a matter of the legal mumbo jumbo concerning trying foreign citizens on U.S. soil.

There seem to be two issues going on here. One, Congress didn’t want to allow the trials of potential terrorists on U.S. soil for a variety of reasons germane to individual Congressmen who feared the trials would wind up in their district. Two, judges haven’t decided who has authority to actually close Guantanamo. Third – and this is the point I’m surprised no one else is making – the mere procedural questions involved must be a huge impediment to getting the job done.

Here are the questions, basically, you need to ask if you want to understand what’s going on with the huge “delay” (if it is that) in the Guantanamo shutdown:

1) How long does it take to, essentially, close a military base?
2) Who has the authority to send whichever inmates to whichever states?
3) What will those states do in the face of those detainees?
4) What will a trial on home soil do to the applicability of the ruling to things like, say, international law regarding “enemy combatants?”

Number four is kind of a throwaway – this author doesn’t think much of “international law” – but overall, anyone expecting Guantanamo to close anytime soon has a lot to think about.


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