Closing Gittmo still a difficult task
The closure of the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is beginning to look like a protracted and uncertain project for the Obama administration as political, legal and security concerns limit the president's options.I think the voters are on the side of Graham's bill and it is an issue that will continue to plague Obama and the Democrats as the election draws closer. Closing Gitmo was always a bad idea and the closer we get to trying to do it the more obvious how bad it is gets revealed.
Having blown the one-year closure deadline set last January in an executive order, the administration is planning to transfer some detainees to a state prison it hopes to acquire in Illinois. But there appears to be little mood in Congress to provide the administration with either the funding for the prison or the authority to transfer detainees who will be held indefinitely.
At the same time, opposition is building to plans to transfer a number of detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to a civilian court in Lower Manhattan for federal trial.
"My hope is that the attorney general and the president decide to change their mind," New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said this week, after having welcomed the choice of venue in November.
Facing rising local concern about disruption to life in the city, and with some estimates of security costs touching $1 billion, Bloomberg said an alternative proposal to hold a trial on a military base is a "reasonably good one."
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) plans to introduce a bill next week that would prohibit funding of a federal trial for Mohammed and other Sept. 11 defendants, in an effort to force the case into a military tribunal. An earlier such legislative effort failed, but a spokesman for Graham said that the senator has been taking the pulse of his colleagues and that "momentum has been building."