He probably doesn’t want to upset the folks in the tri-border area:
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.
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.
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.
A series of unfortunate news:
Ongoing threats, but they’re sending Gitmo alumni 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?
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.
“Weapons of mass destruction” have now returned full-circle to the Middle East.
And now the Gitmo detainees may be heading there.
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.
Not only did he graduate from Gitmo, he also graduated from Saudi Arabia’s rehab program:
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, 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?
Andy McCarthy, the prosecutor for the first World Trade Center (1993) bombing, writes, Uighurs: Sometimes, the Obama Friday Night Bad News Dump Is Bad for the Left
The Obama Justice Department told the Supreme Court this evening that the Uighurs have no right to be released into the United States.
The Uighurs, Chinese Muslim detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, received terrorist training at al Qaeda affiliated camps (from an organization formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law) and were captured after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. They are the Left’s combatant cause célèbre. The military took the incoherent position that they were trained al Qaeda terrorists but that their real beef was with China, not us. Thus, the federal courts have held that they are not enemy combatants. The government has been trying to relocate them for years but no country will take the remaining 17 — other than China, where our treaty obligations arguably forbid us from sending them because there is reason to believe they’d be persecuted.
Of course, it’s one thing to say that they are not enemy combatants and should therefore be released. It is quite another thing, though, to say that they should be released into the United States (which, because of their terrorist affiliations, would violate federal immigration law).
Federal judge Richard Urbina tried to order their release into the US; the DC Court of Appeals overruled Urbina,
The Uighurs appealed, and today the Justice Department filed its responsive brief. Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued — consistent with the Bush administration position — that the Uighurs have no right to be released into the U.S.
This is an important decision not only for domestic security, but also because as Michael Goldfarb points out,
European nations are clamoring for the U.S. to accept some of the Uighur detainees in return for accepting some themselves.
Bottom line: the Uighurs have no right to be released into the US.
There are a number of interesting items in the speech:
First, the Obama administration had previously changed the term “war on terror” to “overseas contingency operations”. In today’s speech Obama asserted that
- “We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
- “We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
- “Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States,and those that we capture — like other prisoners of war — must be prevented from attacking us again.”
- “And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda.”
So, does this mean the “war on terror” should be called “the war on al Qaeda”?
And the specific statement, “like other prisoners of war”, raises the issue whether the Obama administration is considering changing the detainees’ status to that of POWs.
Obama categorically asserts that that enhanced interrogation techniques
“did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts– they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.”
A statement that is also accompanied with his apparent eagerness for
“declassifying more information and embracing more oversight of our actions, and we’re narrowing our use of the state secrets privilege”
Yet at the same time, the Obama administration will not declassify or release any CIA memos explaining the effectiveness of the very interrogation techniques that Obama categorically asserts are totally ineffective.
Another interesting point came up when Obama talked about five categories of Guantanamo detainees; specifically talking about prosecuting terrorists who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts. What is particularly interesting is that both terrorists he named, Ramzi Yousef and Zacarias Moussaoui, were never in Guantanamo: Youself was captured in Pakistan and sent to New York, and Mussaoui was captured in Minnesota.
Closing Gitmo? Where’s the plan?
Supermax prisons taking Gitmo detainees? Which ones?
“New legal regime to detain terrorists”? Where’s the plan?
While Obama predictably managed to work in as much blame on “the prior eight years” as possible, my question is, does that mean he is saying that his own party, which has controlled Congress for the past two years, is derelict?
And one final touch of irony,
From the text of the speech, it appears that the President prefers to believe that Gitmo, enhanced interrogations and the such are what makes the terrorists hate us. Gitmo didn’t exist on September 11, 2001. Terrorists, including al Qaeda, are motivated by an ideology that despises everything we believe in: women’s rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech, religion and sexual orientation, and Israel’s right to exist – anti-Semitism being one of the motives of the four homegrown jihadists arrested in New York this morning.
Obama says that fearmongering is good for “30-second commercials”, on the same day that the FBI thwarted a terrorist attack.
As you may be aware of, I do the Carnival of Latin America weekly. The easiest way to do the Carnival is to go through my news and blog feeds, and save up the stories throughout the week.
Today’s headline caught my attention, of course, since I have been posting on the Mexican drug wars for a while:
Official: Mexico not in danger of collapse
The Mexican government is not on the verge of collapse, the top U.S. intelligence official said Thursday, seeking to tamp down increasing alarm over the powerful and violent drug cartels operating in the country that is the United States’ southern neighbor.
“Mexico is in no danger of becoming a failed state,” said National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair at his first news conference Thursday.
Echoing the assessment of Mexico’s leaders, Blair said the dramatic increase in killings in Mexico is a result of that government’s crackdown on drug cartels.
A U.S. military planning report issued in January warned that the escalating violence is dangerously destabilizing Mexico and warned its government could collapse. But Blair said there is no danger of that.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will dispatch nearly 500 more federal agents to the border, along with X-ray machines and drug-sniffing dogs, to stop the spillover of violence into the U.S. from Mexican drug smugglers and immigrant smugglers. National Guardsmen might also be sent.
Alright. This is not exactly ground-breaking news. It’s been in the works for a while.
The real story is this:
During his news conference, Blair also said the Obama administration is still wrestling with what to do with the remaining 240 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which the president has ordered closed.
Some of the detainees, deemed non-threatening, may be released into the United States as free men, Blair confirmed.
That would happen when they can’t be returned to their home countries, because the governments either won’t take them or the U.S. fears they will be abused or tortured. That is the case with 17 Uighers (WEE’-gurz), Chinese Muslim separatists who were cleared for release from the jail long ago. The U.S. can’t find a country willing to take them, and it will not turn them over to China.
Blair said the former prisoners would have get some sort of assistance to start their new lives in the United States.
Gitmo alumni may be released in the US as free men? And then get welfare?
Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard has a number of questions:
(1) Does this mean that the Obama administration is planning on giving some freed Guantanamo detainees a stipend? It sure appears that way. So, not only is the Obama administration planning on freeing some detainees on U.S. soil, it is also going to pay them to live here. Amazing. Who would have thought that we would see the day when detainees who were once labeled enemy combatants would be receiving welfare?
(2) The Uighur detainees are cited, over and over again, as the types of detainees who can be safely released into the U.S. This conclusion has been reached through a combination of specious reasoning and ignorance.
None of the 17 Uighurs are master terrorists on par with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They were mostly new recruits at the time of their capture. However, as I have argued before, they are all affiliated with and/or members of a designated terrorist organization, received training at a training camp in the al Qaeda/Taliban stronghold of Tora Bora, and have admitted that they were trained by two known terrorists. And, on top of that, the group that trained them threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China last year.
Even if you don’t think that we should lock them up and throw away the key, do we really want to pay them to live on U.S. soil?
(3) The AP says the United States can’t find a country to take the Uighurs, other than China, which may treat them harshly. But that really remains to be seen. Ireland, for example, has apparently offered to take some Guantanamo detainees. Other European nations have been somewhat more reticent.
(4) Is the Obama administration considering paying other Guantanamo detainees to live in the U.S. as well?
What next? Granting Raul Castro asylum in Palm Beach when his regime finally collapses?
Or will Raul have to settle for West Palm?
That aside, it’s interesting how AP chooses to hide one story under a headline involving a less immediately important story.
Attorney General Eric Holder said some detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration works with foreign allies to resettle some of the prisoners.
Let’s get the Gitmo alumni substandard mortgages under the Community Reinvestment Act guidelines (which are still law) and move them next door to Eric’s.