President Obama called out the political cowardice of Congress while annihilating every Republican argument, and setting the record straight on GITMO.
The President said that we are using every element of our national power against the fight against al Qaeda and ISIL, but when it becomes clear that something doesn’t work as intended, or advance our national security, we have to change course.
Obama said, “For many years, it’s been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it. This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of experts. This is the opinion of many in our military. It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists because they use it in their propaganda efforts to recruit. It drains military resources. With nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running, and more than $200 million needed in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward for less than one hundred detainees.”
The President said that keeping the facility open is contrary to our values and that it is viewed as a stain on our record of upholding the highest standards of the rule of law.
Obama said George W. Bush and John McCain Wanted To close GITMO.
The President continued, “When I first ran for president, it was widely recognized the facility needed to close. This was not just my opinion. This was not some radical far left view. There was a bipartisan support to close it. My predecessor President Bush, to his credit, said he wanted to close it. It was one of the few things that I and my Republican opponent Sen. John McCain agreed on.”
Obama called Out Congress for preventing the closure of GITMO.
Obama said, “And so, in one of my first acts as president, I took action to begin closing it. Because we had bipartisan support, I wanted to make sure that we did it right…..Unfortunately, during that period when we were putting the pieces in place to close it what had previously been bipartisan support, suddenly became a partisan issue. Suddenly many who previously had said it should be closed backed off because they were worried about the politics. The public was scared into thinking that if we close it, somehow we will be less safe. And since that time, Congress has repeatedly imposed restrictions aimed at preventing us from closing this facility.”
The cowardice on closing GITMO has been bipartisan for years, timid congressional Democrats have voted with Republicans for blocking Obama’s plans to close the facility. Obama has been trying for years to shut down GITMO, but Congress has used the NDAA to impose restrictions of closing the detention center.
President Obama not only destroyed the Republican argument for keeping GITMO open. He also exposed the ugly politics that members of Congress are using to block his plans. GITMO remains open, not because it is good for national security, but because incumbent members of Congress view it as good politics.
Congress is providing terrorists with a powerful recruitment tool because they don’t have the guts to do the right thing. President Obama won’t get GITMO closed during his remaining time in office, but he has provided the country with a character test that every presidential candidate should be evaluated on.
Any candidate that does not currently support closing GITMO is unfit to hold the presidency.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association