Michele Flournoy, President Barack Obama’s newly minted Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, may have unwittingly given a preview of Obama’s big speech on the fate of terrorists currently held at Guantanamo Bay, when she spoke after the Senate overwhelmingly voted to strip funding for implementing the closure from the Administration’s supplemental budget request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Flournoy essentially said that members of Congress who object to the terrorists being brought into their districts and states will just have to get over it.
[Flournoy] says members of Congress need to remember that closing the stigmatized prison in Cuba will mean hard choices for everyone. […]
[She] says it’s unrealistic to think that no detainees will come to the U.S., and that the U.S. can’t ask allies to take detainees while refusing to take on the same burden.
Without singling anyone out, Flournoy said lawmakers need to think more “strategically.”
The Pentagon says Guantanamo terrorists are coming to the United States, so that Europe will feel better. Is this the Obama Administration’s plan? And will the president say so clearly in his speech today?
Left unanswered by Flournoy’s “strategic” thinking, is the question of why Guantanamo has to close at all given that the Obama Administration and a federal court judge now both believe that the United States can hold terrorist detainees indefinitely without charge.
The hidden truth in Flournoy’s statement is that the Obama Administration knows bringing these terrorists into the United States is a dangerous game that puts the American people at risk unnecessarily. Europe is insisting that the United States take some of the detainees on the grounds that the United States created the “problem” of Guantanamo in the first place, and as reassurance to their citizens that there really is nothing to fear from bringing these prisoners into their countries.
If that were true, and the president had any intention of honoring his campaign rhetoric, he would have transferred the prisoners to US soil already instead of trying to pawn them off on Europe. His bluff was called, and now Flournoy is admitting that the US will have to fold. Today, with large majorities of Congress and the American people against the idea, we will see if President Obama knows when to cut his losses.