Obama's own attorney general opposes his latest scheme to close Gitmo

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday June 21st, 2016

Video guilty pleas followed by prison sentences in other countries. What could go wrong?

If you understand nothing else about Guantanamo Bay, understand this: Obama's 2008 campaign promise to close it was based on a lie - that the prison represented an injustice that had infuriated the world - and his desperation now to somehow keep this promise before he leaves office is the inevitable consequence of trashing the truth to get elected, only to find that once in office you have to deal with said truth as it really is.

Obama has been trying anything and everything he can think of to shut Gitmo down. The problem, of course, is that Gitmo's detainees remain extremely dangerous terrorists and - in case you haven't noticed - the terrorist world has not chosen to cease hostilities against the United States. What usually happens when one party insists on continuing to fight is that the other party hangs on to its prisoners for the duration of hostilities. This bothers Obama because he's never really accepted that this was a war. He wants it to be fought by lawyers instead of the Armed Forces, an idea that other liberals tend to like, but this time he's gone too far even for his own attorney general, Loretta Lynch:

Lynch, a former federal prosecutor whom Obama appointed to head the Justice Department two years ago, is opposing a White House-backed proposal that would allow Guantanamo Bay prisoners to plead guilty to terrorism charges in federal court by videoconference, the officials said.

Over the past three months, Lynch has twice intervened to block administration proposals on the issue, objecting that they would violate longstanding rules of criminal-justice procedure.

In the first case, her last-minute opposition derailed a White House-initiated legislative proposal to allow video guilty pleas after nearly two months of interagency negotiations and law drafting. In the second case, Lynch blocked the administration from publicly supporting a Senate proposal to legalize video guilty pleas.

“It’s been a fierce interagency tussle,” said a senior Obama administration official, who supports the proposal and asked not to be identified.

White House officials confirmed that President Obama supports the proposal. But the president declined to overrule objections from Lynch, the administration’s top law-enforcement official.

“There were some frustrations,” said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The top lawyer in the land has weighed in, and that was the DOJ’s purview to do that.”

If enacted into law, the Obama-backed plan would allow detained terrorism suspects who plead guilty to serve their sentences in a third-country prison, without setting foot on U.S. soil. The plan would thus sidestep a Congressional ban on transferring detainees to the United States, which has left dozens of prisoners in long-term judicial limbo in Guantanamo, the American military enclave in Cuba.

To understand why this is such a bad idea, you have to recall the whole idea behind establishing the prison at Guantanamo Bay in the first place. Because it's a U.S. naval base, it's under U.S. control. Because it's in another country, the detainees have no access to the U.S. justice system and the rights offered therein, such as Miranda rights and so forth. And because the other country is Cuba, which is not an ally, it's not a threat to the security of a friendly nation.

The left will screech, Hey, that's a sneaky way around their constitutional rights! You're catching on, Arlo. Darn right it is. That's the whole idea. We're at war with these people. We have to respect their basic human rights, but we don't have to let them into this country and give them access to a) American lawyers; or b) any other benefit reserved for citizens of this country.

You might think it's no big deal to let them plead guilty via video, but if they can plead guilty, why can't they also plead not guilty? Either way, what you're doing is giving them the chance to have their case adjudicated in the American court system, which as the very thing keeping them at Gitmo was supposed to prevent. Also, what is the precedent for an American court to convict someone of an American crime, and then send that same person to serve their sentence in a foreign prison? What is the legal justification for that?

And if they're serving in a foreign prison, how can we be sure they'll serve the sentence that fits the crime of terrorism against the United States? We're essentially farming out the role of jailer to other governments, which may or may not be as committed to the security of the United States as we are.

Then again, chances are they're more committed to American national security than Barack Obama, who continues to insist on searching for a way to let these people go despite all the evidence that it's a horrible idea and that no one wants him to do it. When even Loretta Lynch isn't willing to cotton to Obama's nonsense on Gitmo, it's really time he has to think about just giving up his dream of keeping this ill-conceived campaign promise.

By the way, if Lynch is this independent on certain other matters, that can't be helping Hillary sleep at night, can it?

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