Close Gitmo anyway

CLOSE GITMO ANYWAY…. Very little of the conservative reaction to the failed Abdulmutallab plot on Christmas has made sense, but the calls to keep Gitmo open in response to the attempted terrorism are especially odd.

For many on the right, the effort to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was some kind of signal that we’re no longer going after terrorists. That’s backwards. The point is that Gitmo, thanks to the Bush/Cheney failures, had become a rallying cry that helped terrorists.

When President Obama began the process of shutting the facility down, he explained his position in a way that even conservatives should have been able to understand: “The message we are sending around the world is that the U.S. intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so vigilantly, we are going to do so effectively, and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals … We intend to win this fight, and we intend to win it on our terms.”

Now, apparently, conservatives believe the fact that terrorists still want to kill Americans is reason enough to keep Gitmo open. The Obama administration said today that plans to close the facility haven’t changed. A senior administration official said today:

The detention facility at Guantanamo has been used by Al Qaeda as a rallying cry and recruiting tool – including its affiliate Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. As our military leaders have recognized, closing the detention facility at Guantanamo is a national security imperative.

The President created the Guantanamo Review Task Force to conduct the thorough work that the previous administration did not: to review the relevant information about each detainee, including the threat they pose, to determine whether they should be prosecuted, detained, or transferred. As he has said before, the President will not release any detainee who would endanger the American people. We have worked cooperatively with the government of Yemen to ensure that all appropriate security measures are taken when detainees are transferred.

In other words, nothing has changed. Nor should it — Gitmo was undermining our national security interests before Dec. 25; it’s still undermining our national security interests after Dec. 25. Closing the facility isn’t at odds with our security; keeping it open is.

Now, if only congressional Dems weren’t stuck in a defensive crouch, they could echo the administration’s position. That, apparently, isn’t going to happen.