Washington Post on How Obama’s Guantanamo Closure Policy Died

Fine long article in the Washington Post today by Peter Finn and Anne E. Kornblut on why President Obama has not fulfilled his promise to close Guantanamo Bay.  Detailed, measured, and comprehensive, with an excellent timeline graphic.  I agree with Ben Wittes’ take that the best bit of reporting detail is this:

On Obama’s inauguration night, when the new administration instructed military prosecutors to seek the suspension of all proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, defense lawyers at the base formed a boisterous conga line.

“Rule of law, baby!” they shouted.

Ben’s discussion is here at Lawfare.  He observes that many sensible people, including Matthew Waxman and John Bellinger, had been telling the incoming adminstration for months, and indeed had been saying to anyone who would listen for years, that ultimately the number of people it would be able to try would be limited.  And yet it would still conclude that it could not let a number of them go, either – and in office would not do so.  My on experience, as someone on the outside defending roughly that position in academic conferences, press discussions, etc., was that left-liberal America was mesmerized by the slogan, “Charge them or let them go.”

At risk of some snark, I also have to say that the incoming administration was afflicted with a not-negligible amount of hubris, intellectual and moral, particularly in the matter of Guantanamo.  However, whatever one’s views of this -and I do understand that no one, save those in the administration deciding whether to charge the detainees or hold them without charges, has changed their minds about this since, oh, 2003 or so – the WaPo article is fine reportage, and well-worth citing in scholarship and elsewhere.

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