Despite ample evidence from recent history that it is an unwise idea, President Obama wants to transfer 17 more detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, and he'd like to do it as soon as this week. We do not know who is on the President's list right now, but the information we do have makes it look even less promising than usual. From Fox News:
The group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay as early as this week includes “multiple bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers,” a source who has reviewed the list told Fox News.
Little is known publicly about which prisoners are being prepared for transfer, but the Obama administration has notified Congress it plans to ship out 17 detainees – some of whom could be transferred within days.
While the identities of the men are closely held, the source who spoke with Fox News said it includes “multiple bad guys … not taxi drivers and cooks.”
That last quote is a reference to the failures that were past transfers. In particular, in 2012, Osama bin Laden's former cook Ibrahim al-Qosi was sent to Sudan. Despite having completed a "rehabilitation program", he is now a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Even having seen this happen, Obama is still determined to release more prisoners, and this time, the links to Al Qaeda appear to be known and indisputable.
As we enter the last full year of Obama's Presidency, we should expect him to do everything he can to close Gitmo, even if it means resorting to executive action. Common sense and national security are secondary concerns to his leftism. We can see this in his end of the year news conference, where he reiterated his desire to close the prison:
President Obama in his year-end news conference justified the closure of the detention camp, claiming “Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment.” But the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which tracks jihadist propaganda, said that terrorist groups have moved on from using Guantanamo in their recruitment efforts.
“The topic of Guantanamo prisoners appeared rather frequently in Al-Qaeda's propaganda in past years,” MEMRI’s Eliot Zweig said. “However, the topic has received little to no attention in the last year or two ... Gitmo hasn’t received much attention in official ISIS releases.”
The people at MEMRI know far more about the Middle East than you or I, and it appears that they unfortunately know more about the region than our President and his advisers. Of course, it's entirely possible that Obama knows about these facts, and he just doesn't care. If he can find more ways to buddy up to the brothers Castro and in the process close the allegedly racist, imperialist, and Islamophobic prison on Cuba*, then he'll make sure Gitmo is shut down one way or another. Unfortunately, that means potentially re-invigorating Al Qaeda in the process.
If Congress is as determined to stop both the transfer of these detainees and the closure of the base, then they need to act on the issue as soon as possible. While it's fine to use the courts if the President does go through with closing it through executive action, our experiences with Obamacare and other issues show that Congress should not make that their only strategy in confronting Obama over the issue. Congress has more than enough oversight power to make the administration's life miserable if he tries such a thing.