Obama makes progress on Gitmo

OBAMA MAKES PROGRESS ON GITMO…. For most of the year, there’s been very little progress on transferring prisoners from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The biggest hurdle, of course, has been members of Congress — from both parties — who balk at the idea of having suspected terrorists on American soil (where we already detain plenty of terrorists).

The Obama administration has turned to international allies to do what American lawmakers will not. The president seems to be making progress.

The Obama administration has secured commitments from nearly a dozen countries willing to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay and is increasingly confident about its ability to transfer a large majority of the prisoners who have been cleared for release, according to U.S. and foreign officials.

Six European Union countries — Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain — have accepted or publicly agreed to take detainees. Four E.U. countries have privately told the administration that they are committed to resettling detainees, and five other E.U. nations are considering taking some, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Two E.U. countries will soon send delegations to the U.S. military prison in Cuba to assess detainees held there.

The administration’s progress in resettling the approximately 80 detainees cleared for release so far could ease the politics and logistics of moving terrorism suspects to American soil.

Well, one would hope. By working with international allies to transfer most of the Gitmo detainees to foreign soil, Obama should find it easier to tell lawmakers, “If our friends around the world can step up on this, you can suck it up a little.”

For a while, the fear was that U.S. allies would be willing to “share the burden,” but only if Congress stopped saying, “Anywhere but here.” It appears, however, that this has proven less problematic than originally feared.

“Obama has a lot of political capital. Countries want to do something for him, and that allows us to say, ‘This is it, this is what we want you to do,’ ” said a senior administration official. “This is going a lot better than we might have thought.”

It occasionally pays to have a U.S. president with stature and credibility on the global stage.