GOP Sens. Cotton, Perdue seek to block Gitmo closing by declassifying detainee terror records

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday June 09th, 2016

But does anyone care?

Let's start with the most important thing: The terrorist prison at Guantanomo Bay was one of the most brilliant things George W. Bush ever did. Because it's at a naval base the U.S. controls, we have full autonomy in dealing with the terrorists we pick up on the battlefield and bring there. Because it's not on our soil, we don't have to grant the terrorists any constitutional rights. And because it's on the soil of an adversary instead of an ally, we don't have to worry about creating political or security concerns for a friend.

It's perfect - if your priority is winning the war.

Of course, if you're Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party, your priority is not to see America win but rather to blame Republicans for all the ills in the world. So Obama ran for president in 2008 vowing to close Gitmo on the premise that it had caused us to "squander the world's good will" or whatever. On the day he took office, he signed an executive order that Gitmo must be closed.

That order turned out to be meaningless, of course, because every rationale that supported opening Gitmo in the first place still applies today. There are still dangerous terrorists there, and it's still in the best interests of the United States and its allies to keep them at Gitmo as opposed to any other place. But Obama wants to tell his left-wing base and his media cheerleaders that he kept his promise, so he's going to try to find any way he can to close Gitmo while he's still in office.

Knowing this, Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue are hoping a provision in the new National Defense Authorization Act will complicate that effort:

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act spearheaded by Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would require the director of national intelligence to declassify and make public the terror records of former detainees.

The more information that’s available, the freshman duo are betting, the less likely the public will be to allow the White House to empty and close the prison.

“I suspect the American people, and frankly a lot of our allies, would be a little hesitant to see [detainees] released, to see them walking into their country,” Cotton told reporters at The Heritage Foundation Wednesday.

Presumably having this information in the public domain would give Obama pause, because he would have to deal with news media reports of just how bad the guys are that he wants to release. That's an interesting theory, but I think there's a flaw in it.

Just because information is declassified and released into the public domain doesn't mean the news media will pay any attention to it. And if they do, there is no guarantee they will present is accurately. Does anyone seriously have a hard time envisioning the media spinning the declassified intelligence to make the detainees sound far less menacing than they really are - or worse, making them sound like victims of an overly zealous United States military?

I realize how increasingly difficult it is for the Congress to stop Obama from simply doing anything at all he wants to do, regardless of their consent or lack thereof, or of any sort of constitutional authority. But if they're now resorting to public shaming strategies that rely on the public and the media to pay attention to reasons Obama is being irresponsible, I think they need to think of something else.

My guess is that Gitmo does not close during Obama's presidency simply because he can't solve the problem of what to do with the detainees, unless he simply goes ahead and releases them after the election because no one can stop him at that point. He wouldn't do it before, of course, because that would compromise Hillary. He'll wait until the only thing he's compromising is U.S. national security. In that respect - putting Hillary's interests ahead of the country's - it's almost as if she's president already.

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