(originally published by OpEdNews)
I recently read a very strange letter to The Post Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota. I consider it strange because it was posted on the twenty-second of January. This is not to imply that letters written to the editor and posted on January 22 are inherently strange.
What’s strange about this particular letter is that the writer refers to an answer President Obama offered during his January 11 interview with George Stephanopoulos. The President made the measured statement that closing Guantánamo Bay is going to be “more difficult than I think a lot of people realize.”
The writer wonders if Obama had considered this fact while he was promising to close the facility during his campaign. She finds it incredulous that “only now, after high-level security briefings, Obama finally realizes the ramifications of closing Gitmo.” She tells us that, if this is the case, “then perhaps he is more of a dunce than the left has been claiming Bush is.”
The only other possibility, according to the writer, is that Obama really knew that closing Gitmo wouldn’t be a piece of cake. Consequently, she concludes that Obama “had to know he was lying every time he mentioned it on the campaign trail.”
Her sources include “the common-sense people I encounter--hard-working, blue-collar people who didn't go to Harvard”. She uses these people as references because they “immediately recognize this to be a bad idea.”
As I’m quite certain that the letter was written before it was posted, probably a few days before it was posted, the writer didn’t know the pending irony underlying the posting of her letter on the very day that The President signed the executive order ensuring that Gitmo would, indeed, be closed within one year.
Was the writer insinuating that President Obama’s statement to Stephanopoulos was a prelude to reneging on that campaign promise? If so, she obviously miscalculated.
Even if that was not her implication, she somehow considers Obama a “bigger deceiver than the left has been claiming Bush is”.
I read quite a few Obama campaign speeches, hoping to find one in which he encouraged “millions of wide-eyed idealists to ignore the reality of the situation and believe that Gitmo could easily be closed.” However, I did not find one speech made by Barack Obama in which he guaranteed that closing America’s shameful “detention center” at Guantánamo Bay would be quick and easy.
In one speech in which he opined that Gitmo should be closed, Obama said that The US should have “developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused”.
In February of 2008, Obama said that the trials of those detained at Gitmo are “too important to be held in a flawed military commission system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks and that has been embroiled in legal challenges”.
Another Obama campaign statement regarding Gitmo was that the existence of the gulag “sends a negative message to the world” and taints even trade-deal negotiations.
“To the extent that we are not being true to our values and our ideals, (the existence of the Guantánamo facility) sends a negative message to the world, and it gives us less leverage, then, when we want to deal with countries that are abusing human rights”, Obama said in December of 2007.
During the Stephanopoulos interview, rather than appearing to have changed his mind about closing Gitmo, the then President-elect said, “We are going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have got a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication”
The last statement appears to have been made by a man who is adamant about closing Gitmo, although he is not under the illusion that it will be quick or easy. The writer of the letter to the Post Bulletin, like so many who actually want Obama to fail, took just enough from the interview to conclude that the president has already failed to live up to one of his most important campaign promises.
If there were “millions of wide-eyed idealists” who interpreted anything that Obama said during his campaign as a prediction that closing Gitmo would be fast and easy, their interpretation had and still has no basis in fact. From where I sit, which is not on top of the world, able to know what the millions of Obama supporters are thinking, most Obama supporters didn’t hear him promise that closing the gulag would be a fast and painless process. I’ll go further than that.
Not only do the millions of Obama supporters realize that he didn’t promise to close Gitmo quickly, they were and still are intelligent enough to know that the effort isn’t a two hour job. They know this in spite of the fact that many of them didn’t attend Harvard.
Barack Obama has been accused by many of being “elite”, almost too smart to be president. Witness the letter writer’s statement that the people to whom she listens “didn’t go to Harvard”. While it doesn’t take attendance at Harvard or Yale to legitimize one’s educational background, the writer, like so many conservatives, seems to be proud of the fact that she knows people who didn’t attend Harvard. The writer, like so many conservatives, pushes the idea that too much intelligence precludes possessing “common sense” and is generally not a desirable trait. The last eight years have demonstrated what the writer and her “blue collar” friends consider the degree of intelligence a president should possess.
I have no doubt that Barack Obama will make mistakes during his presidency. After all, he’s only human. His supporters, I’m certain, also believe that and hope that any mistake he makes will not be catastrophic for the nation or the world.
I would ask those who didn’t support him during the presidential campaign to at least wait until he makes a mistake before criticizing him. I would ask those people to wait, but, seriously, I just don’t believe that they possess the degree of maturity and/or tolerance to enable them to do so.
Addendum: The news about the released Gitmo detainee who became the leader of an Al Qaeda cell in Yemen was published after I had completed the above article. Many on the right have used this instance as an opportunity to reinforce the idea that the gulag at Guantánamo Bay should remain open indefinitely.
There is one obvious response to those who posit this notion and several incidental responses.
The incidental responses are:
the person who has signed the executive order to close Gitmo was not in office when the detainee was released. The Regime was in power.
detainees have been held for a very long time without the benefit of being charged, offered legal counsel and tried. Possibly if this detainee was tried in an American court under American rules of jurisprudence, his guilt may have been exposed.
to paraphrase Keith Olbermann, is it not possible that, after being held under the above mentioned conditions and possibly tortured, we turned what may have been an innocent man into a Jihadist against The US?
Here’s the killer reasoning, though.
- A detainee is held for years under the above mentioned conditions
- If he isn’t tortured, he’s at least not treated humanely.
- He’s released without a criminal trial.
- He becomes involved with Al Qaeda.
- Conclusion: Obviously, Gitmo does not work!