Posts Tagged ‘Guantánamo’

Cuba: Getting Gitmo closed

Friday, August 28th, 2015

I fully expect the Obama administration to close not only the prison but also the U.S. base at Guantanamo, after which, Obama will do a turnkey ceremony in Havana with photo-op with Raul Castro.

Here’s the latest headline, on the latest hurdle:
Obama, Congress head for showdown over defense bill curbs on Gitmo

The House version of the fiscal defense authorization bill, now in House-Senate conference, contains language that prohibits transferring any Guantanamo detainees abroad or to the United States.

The bill does so by barring the Pentagon from spending any funds on the transfers or constructing or modifying prison facilities in the United States. It also bans putting the detainees in any Pentagon facilities worldwide or to combat zones.

Lastly, the House bill prohibits using any defense funds to send terrorists from Guantanamo to any foreign country unless the defense secretary provides a certification that past transferees haven’t returned to terrorist activities.

Although the bill fully funds the president’s budget request, Mr. Obama has threatened a veto on the grounds that it misuses the Overseas Contingency Operations to fund other defense programs. His real rationale for a veto, however, may be the House’s Guantanamo restrictions.

No similar restrictions are in the Senate version of the bill. However, the House bill notes that the White House ignored previous legal restrictions on Guantanamo prisoners, thus bolstering the argument for keeping the more restrictive House language.

As Drudge says, developing . . .

As expected: WH finishing up latest plan for closing Guantánamo

Monday, July 27th, 2015

All part of the plan:

A White House spokesman says the administration is in the “final stages” of drafting its latest plan to close the prison holding terrorism detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
. . .
Press secretary Josh Earnest says closing Guantánamo remains a priority. Earnest said Wednesday it’s a waste to spend more than $100 million per year on a prison holding only 116 detainees.

Earnest ignores any importance of Guantánamo base as a strategic asset.

I stand by my prediction: Obama will gift Guantánamo base to the Castros before his term is over.

Cuba: “What next” would mean

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

In yesterday’s post, Cuba: What next?, I posited,

I have been predicting for quite a while that the Obama administration’s next goal regarding its foreign policy on Latin America is to gift the Guantanamo naval base to the Castro’s communist regime.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) explains the consequences this will have for America:

Aside from further demonstrating weakness, relinquishing the base at GTMO would be a strategic misstep of epic proportions for the United States. It would have significant national security and military implications. GTMO is the oldest overseas U.S. naval base and only permanent U.S. defense base in the region. Its location enables U.S. forces to maintain full advantages across a wide spectrum of military operations. It plays a critical role in migrant operations assistance missions and is a logistics center for U.S. ships and aircraft, allowing these assets to maintain tactical advantages and freedom of movement in strategic waters in a region with limited U.S. military presence.

If Castro achieved control of GTMO, what would happen? The all-too-obvious answer is that it would allow him to extend an invitation to one of the close allies of Havana, such as the Putin regime in Moscow or the mullahs in Tehran. If any of the actors interested in taking over the lease of GTMO does move into the warm Cuban waters off Florida’s southern coast, this would provide a direct military threat to the U.S. homeland. Consider for a moment the depth of waters and potential ability for nuclear submarines to conduct intelligence operations or worse.

Two years ago, the Russian Defense Minister stated that Russia wants to build military bases in several countries in the Western hemisphere, including Cuba. Press reports of Russian intelligence ships operating in the waters around Cuba, most recently earlier this year on the eve of U.S. talks with Cuba in Havana, prove that Russia is deadly serious about making good on those intentions.

Duncan does not exaggerate; Last year Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Russia is planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing military bases in a number of foreign countries:

the list includes Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles, Singapore and several other countries.

“The talks are under way, and we are close to signing the relevant documents,” Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.

The minister added that the negotiations cover not only military bases but also visits to ports in such countries on favorable conditions as well as the opening of refueling sites for Russian strategic bombers on patrol.

Duncan continues

Remember what Russia is doing in its own neighborhood for a moment. Vladimir Putin brazenly acted to annex the Crimean Peninsula, ignoring the international outrage, and Ukraine is worried about a “full-scale” Russian invasion. If the U.S. gave way on GTMO, Putin would likely welcome the opportunity to have warm-water lodging for his navy only 90 miles from the United States.

And let’s not forget Iran,

Similarly, Iran continues to test the patience of the international community with its nuclear operations and refusal to cooperate with international inspectors. If things go badly for Iran with any nuclear deal, having a deeper presence in Latin America through Cuba offers Iran options for retributive action should they want it.

Dr Ely Karmon, in his report Iran in Latin America: President Rouhani’s Era points out,

On April 30, 2014, the State Department issued its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, which stated that “Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere remained a concern,” but that “due to strong sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and the European Union, Iran has been unable to expand its economic and political ties in Latin America.”[2]

Whether Iran gets what it wants on the nuclear deal (which it does) or not, by lifting sanctions, the U.S. has given Iran every incentive to continue its ongoing economic and political expansion into Latin America. You can expect that making a deal with the Castros on Gitmo is part of their plans.

Related:
1. The Deal Wasn’t About Iran’s Nukes

The administration readily caved on Iran’s nukes because it viewed the matter only as a timely pretense for achieving other cherished aims. These were: (1) preventing an Israeli attack on Iran; (2) transforming the United States into a more forgiving, less imposing power; (3) establishing diplomacy as a great American good in itself; (4) making Iran into a great regional power; and (5), ensuring the legacies of the president and secretary of state as men of vision and peace.

Items 2-5 will play well with that Gitmo gift.

2. Raul Castro calls for new Cuba-US relationship (emphasis added)

In a speech to the National Assembly, Mr Castro said that, for normal relations to resume, a US embargo on Cuba would have to be lifted.

He also called for the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay to be returned to Cuba.

The die is cast, now we just wait for it to roll.

Uruguay: Gitmo alumni go free

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

They can travel out of the country, too,
Guantanamo Inmates Get Rights in Uruguay
Six former prisoners in the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba were set to begin their lives as free men in Uruguay on Monday, as President José Mujica said they could travel in and out of the country.

Six former prisoners in the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba were set to begin their lives as free men in Uruguay on Monday, as President José Mujica said they could travel in and out of the country.

Under what country’s passports?, you would ask. Once they get (Uruguayan?) passports, where will they go?

Most of the men—a Palestinian, four Syrians and a Tunisian—were likely to leave the hospital on Tuesday once they cleared extensive physical and mental tests and move into temporary housing, officials said.

“They will be able to bring their families here if they want,” Uruguay’s defense minister, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, told a local news station. “They will be accompanied by people to help them adjust to the language and other things. They will have to find jobs.”

Ah-hum.

It’s all about the empathy,

In a televised interview on Friday, Mr. Mujica—a former guerrilla who was imprisoned for 14 years—said that while he had long criticized the U.S. for its “interventions and abuses,” he couldn’t decline a request by Mr. Obama to accept the men.

in other empathy news,

Uruguay: Gitmo releases will be free to leave

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

He probably doesn’t want to upset the folks in the tri-border area:

Mujica: Guantánamo detainees could leave Uruguay 

President José Mujica said in an interview Monday that any Guantánamo detainees his country takes will be treated as refugees and will be free to travel wherever they wish, even if they have promised the United States that they’ll stay in the South American country for at least two years.

Mujica told El Espectador radio that Uruguay has tentatively agreed to take four Syrians and a Palestinian who have been held at the military detention center in the U.S.-held corner of Cuba.

Mujica denied that the five are dangerous and said that “in no way” would Uruguay prevent them from traveling.

While he was at it, Mujica also said he’ll skip meeting Pres. Obama in Washington, thank you.

And Mohamedou Slahi goes free

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Andrew McCarthy writes about the release of Mohamedou Slahi, Mohammed Atta’s recruiter:
So, You Still Want to Close Gitmo?
Judge’s order to release 9/11 jihadist is a sign of things to come.

Mohamedou Slahi is responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans. He was a core member of the 9/11 conspiracy — the recruiter of Mohamed Atta and the other ringleaders. If he’d had his druthers, even more Americans would have been killed: He is almost certainly the al-Qaeda middle manager who activated the Canadian cell that attempted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. On the scale of war criminals, he edges toward the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed range, as bad as it gets.

A federal judge has ordered that he be released.

Cassandra did not like being Cassandra. It is not enjoyable to foresee avoidable catastrophes again and again (and again and again and again) only to watch as no remedial measures are taken and disaster strikes. To repeat: The courts are institutionally incompetent when it comes to matters of national security, particularly the prosecution of war.

The Framers intended it that way. National-security decisions are the most important ones a political community makes, so our system of government was designed to have them made by the political branches — by those who answer to the voters, to the people whose lives are at stake. When the political branches abdicate this first responsibility of government, sitting by as it is usurped by politically insulated judges, they deny us the freedom to decide for ourselves what our security requires. We are then the subjects of judges rather than masters of our own destiny.

The courts, moreover, are the worst institution to which we could surrender this authority. Not only are we powerless to vote them out if they get national-defense matters wrong, they are guaranteed to get them wrong. This is not because judges are bad people; it is because they have no responsibility for protecting the country. They are generally good people whose job is to ensure that the parties before the court are given due process. When a judge does that job conscientiously, due-process rights are inevitably inflated. That judges do not run completely out of control in maximizing due-process rights owes not to judicial temperance but to the powers of the political branches.

This genius of separation of powers is on display in the civilian justice system. We know that judges are hardwired to maximize the rights of accused criminals. So we don’t give them free reign. It is Congress that writes the statutes that courts must apply and prescribes the rules of procedure. It is Congress that tells the judges what the punishment for a crime must be and whether an offender may be released — it doesn’t matter whether the judge thinks the criminal is unlikely to threaten society.

But the same Congress that performs these duties exactingly in the civilian justice system, where judges have institutional competence, has abdicated its responsibility in the conduct of war, in which judges have no expertise.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s taking notes.

5 more Gitmo alumni will be free to travel throughout the EU

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

… since Spain to accept five Guantanamo detainees

Spain announced Monday it will accept five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the largest commitment by a European country and a boost for the Obama administration’s dragging effort to close the military detention center.

Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos told reporters in Madrid that the detainees will not pose a security threat and that any transfers to Spain “will be done with all the legal guarantees so as to defend the security situation that our country requires.”

So, on the one hand, the detainees “will not pose a security threat”; on the other hand the transfers will be done with “all the legal guarantees” (whatever that means?), as to “defend the security situation”.

After which, the five Gitmo alumni will be free to travel throughout Spain and the European Union.

Good luck with that, buddies.

Obama administration and Yemen: Close the embassy, send the Gitmo alumni

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

A series of unfortunate news:


Britain and US shut embassies in Yemen after al-Qaida threats
Embassies in Sana’a closed due to ‘ongoing threats’ as US citizens in Yemen urged to be vigilant

Ongoing threats, but they’re sending Gitmo alumni to Yemen?

Brennan: Some Guantanamo detainees will go to Yemen

John Brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the failed Christmas Day terror attack on a U.S. airliner doesn’t change the plan to close the Guantanamo facility.

On Saturday, Obama linked the airline bombing suspect to an al Qaeda affiliate based in Yemen.

Brennan called the failed attack on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan a “unique incident” that won’t affect the process of closing the Guantanamo facility.

“We are making sure that we don’t do anything that’s going to put Americans at risk,” Brennan said.

About half of the roughly 200 detainees still held at Guantanamo Bay would be prosecuted in the United States by federal courts or military tribunals. Some would be sent to third countries, including Yemenis returned to their home nation, Brennan said.

How has that worked out in the past?
Thomas Joscelyn:

the Obama administration is apparently determined to make more suspect transfer decisions. Just this morning, John Brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, told CNNIn December, for example, the Obama administration transferred Ayman Batarfi from Gitmo to Yemen. Batarfi is a known al Qaeda doctor who attended to wounded jihadists during the battle of Tora Bora, met with bin Laden at Tora Bora, and has admitted ties to al Qaeda’s anthrax program. Despite all of this and more, Batarfi, who has been a committed jihadist for decades, was deemed one of the most transfer-worthy detainees by the Obama administration.

Richard Fernandez:

“Weapons of mass destruction” have now returned full-circle to the Middle East.

And now the Gitmo detainees may be heading there.

About that moving Gitmo to Illinois…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money:
Thomson

While Mr. Obama has acknowledged that he would miss the Jan. 22 deadline for closing the prison that he set shortly after taking office, the administration appeared to take a major step forward last week when he directed subordinates to move “as expeditiously as possible” to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center, a nearly vacant maximum-security Illinois prison, and to retrofit it to receive Guantánamo detainees.

But in interviews this week, officials estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades before any transfers take place. Such construction cannot begin until the federal government buys the prison from the State of Illinois.

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.

The Dems don’t want it:

But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.

However, the issue is national security. In his post, We Interrupt this Socialization of Medicine to Bring You an Abdication of Our National Defense . . . Andy McCarthy explains that twelve detainees were released from Gitmo to – astonishing to believe, but true – Yemen:

Yemen, an al-Qaeda hotbed whose government makes common cause with jihadists (and has a history of allowing them to escape — or of releasing them outright); Afghanistan, which is so ungovernable and rife with jihadism that we’re surging thousands of troops there (troops the jihadists are targeting); and Somaliland, which is not even a country, and which offers an easy entree into Somalia, a failed state and al-Qaeda safe-haven. At least one of the released terrorists, a Somali named Abdullahi Sudi Arale (aka Ismail Mahmoud Muhammad), was released notwithstanding the military’s designation of him as a “high-value detainee” (a label that has been applied only to top-tier terrorist prisoners — and one that fits in this case given Arale’s status as a point of contact between al-Qaeda’s satellites in East Africa and Pakistan).

As if that’s not bad enough,

the Justice Department has taken the lead role in making release determinations — the military command at Gitmo has “zero input” and “zero influence,” in its own words. DOJ is rife with attorneys who represented and advocated for the detainees, and, in particular, Attorney General Holder’s firm, represented numerous Yemeni enemy combatants.

Maybe Holder expects the released detainees to take a job with al-Jazeera.

Gitmo alumnus status update: shot in Yemen

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Not only did he graduate from Gitmo, he also graduated from Saudi Arabia’s rehab program:

Former Gitmo detainee killed in shootout, or as Ace says, former terrorist dies of dental plaque and bullets, but mostly bullets,

A former Guantanamo detainee has reportedly been killed in a shootout between the Yemeni Army and Houthi rebels in northern Yemen. The former detainee, Fahd Saleh Suleiman al Jutayli, was captured in Pakistan after fleeing the Tora Bora Mountains in 2001. He was repatriated to his native Saudi Arabia in May 2006.

According to the Yemen Post, two other former Gitmo detainees – Yusuf al Shehri and Othman al Ghamdi – called their families to tell them Jutayli had been killed in the fighting and asked them to inform Jutayli’s family.

Earlier this year, the Saudi government included all three of these former Guantanamo detainees – Jutayli, Shehri, and Ghamdi – on a list of the Kingdom’s 85 most wanted terrorists. After being released from Guantanamo, the three graduated from Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program and joined eight other former Gitmo detainees in fleeing south to Yemen. All eleven joined al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Yusuf-al-Shehri.JPG

Yusuf al-Shehri, a former Gitmo detainee, reportedly informed his family of Jutayli’s death. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.

The escape of the eleven former Gitmo detainees from Saudi Arabia was reportedly organized by still other Gitmo veterans. Writing in the May 2009 issue of the CTC Sentinel, Dr. Christopher Boucek, an associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Saudi officials found their disappearance “was well-coordinated in advance.” Their escape “was allegedly coordinated with other non-Saudi former Guantanamo detainees who have been repatriated to other countries, indicating that returnees have maintained ties from Guantanamo,” Boucek reported.

Surely we have nothing to worry about with all the plans to close Gitmo by next January, do we?