SAME AS IT EVER WAS: Obama Cries Uncle On Gitmo


TIME: As expected, Defense Secretary Robert Gates suspended the two-year ban on new action in military commissions for detainees at Guantanamo Bay today, resuming a practice Obama did away with as one of his first acts in office. For background on the tortured arc of Obama’s rightward move on this issue, see the piece I did with Weisskopf here. More recently, Pro-Publica’s Dafna Linzer looked at last year’s deliberations at the White House here. New charges under the commissions are expected in days or weeks, but are not expected to include big name 9/11 detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: Activists on either end of the debate over closing the prison cast the announcement as a reversal. “It is virtually impossible to imagine how one closes Guantanamo in light of this executive order,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “In a little over two years, the Obama administration has done a complete about-face.” Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the order vindicated Obama’s predecessor. “I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order,” he said in a statement. “The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.” The executive order applies to at least 48 of the 172 detainees who remain at Guantanamo Bay. An inter-agency panel led by Justice Department lawyers determined that this group could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial. But intelligence assessments also concluded that these detainees remain a serious threat and could not be safely repatriated or resettled in a third country. The administration said it will hold reviews for detainees it plans to prosecute but has not charged. MORE

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