Say, remember all of this?
Lots of promises in that video. Not a one of them have come true yet.
Perhaps not a one of them ought to have come true yet; had Team Obama been willing to pay attention to all of those who sought to warn then-Senator-now-President Obama that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would be a lot harder than he made it out to be, they would be less disappointed with their continuing failure to close the prison, and they would not have set themselves up for embarrassment on this issue. But of course, since so many of the people who sought to warn Team Obama that closing the prison would not be as easy as it was made out to be during the 2008 Presidential election season were affiliated with the Bush Administration and the Republican party, Team Obama thought that it could ignore their warnings. One hopes that they know better by now, but for some reason, I have my doubts.
As predictable as the Administration’s failure to close the prison has been the media’s efforts to paper over that failure, and to blame the delays on anyone but the President and his team. Unfortunately for the Administration and its apologists, Andrew Malcolm is on to their game, and has published an exceedingly valuable chronology of the efforts to close down the prison. This chronology shows that the bulk of the blame for the fact that the prison remains open rests with the Administration and Congressional Democrats. Of particular note is the following:
May 19, 2010: The House Armed Services Committee, controlled by members of….
…the president’s own Democratic party, absolutely prohibits any opening of a Guantanamo detention replacement facility within these United States. To underline its ban, the powerful committee erupts in an unusual display of bipartisanship: The prohibition vote is unanimous.
To be sure, Republicans put a lot of pressure on Democrats to prevent the opening of a detention replacement facility within the United States. But Democrats made few efforts to resist that pressure, and at the end of the day, they have helped ensure that the prison at Guantanamo will remain open for the foreseeable future. I am not privy to White House deliberations with its Congressional allies, so I cannot say for sure that Congressional Democrats did not catch significant amounts of Heck from the White House for failing to authorize a detention replacement facility, but I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that no tongue-lashing issued from the Administration; had the Presidential voice actually risen in anger, I am pretty certain that Congressional Democrats would have moved much more expeditiously by now to close the prison at Guantanamo. Of course, it is possible that the President waxed enraged at his Congressional Democratic allies, and they just ignored him. In which case, either (a) the Administration really wants to close the prison, and its Congressional Democratic allies are not willing to be helpful; or (b) neither the Administration, nor its Congressional Democratic allies are interested in giving anything more than lip service to the notion of closing the prison. Whatever the scenario, those who voted to make Barack Obama President ought to be severely disappointed in the fact that his Administration either does not care about actually closing the prison, or does not have the power to make others care.
I mentioned earlier the media’s general lack of focus on the Administration’s failure to close the prison. It is worth emphasizing over and over the fact that if we had had an actual, competent media, willing to speak truth to power, and to hold the feet of the powerful to the fire–no matter the identity of those in power at a given moment–we would have heard a great deal more about the Administration’s singular failure of leadership on the issue of Guantanamo Bay. Instead, it took a massive oil spill off the Gulf Coast to reveal the degree to which the Administration is incapable of providing genuine leadership on important issues facing the country.
I suppose that it would be easy to celebrate all of this if one is a Republican opposed to seeing the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. In fact, however, everyone who wishes to see the United States go from strength to strength ought to be concerned by the Administration’s floundering on this issue. One wonders what other challenges Team Obama will botch in the near future. And one wonders what leaders in countries whose interests may not be in line with those of the United States will think once they have a chance to observe more of this Administration in action.