Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gitmo unlikely to be closed until 2011 at the earliest

From the New York Times:
Rebuffed this month by skeptical lawmakers when it sought finances to buy a prison in rural Illinois, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money to replace the Guantánamo Bay prison.

As a result, officials now believe that they are unlikely to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer its population of terrorism suspects until 2011 at the earliest — a far slower timeline for achieving one of President Obama’s signature national security policies than they had previously hinted...

The administration appeared to take a major step forward last week when [Obama] directed subordinates to move “as expeditiously as possible” to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center, a nearly vacant maximum-security Illinois prison, and to retrofit it to receive Guantánamo detainees.

But in interviews this week, officials estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to install new fencing, towers etc. before any transfers take place. Such construction cannot begin until the federal government buys the prison from the State of Illinois.

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center... The White House... floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year..., but Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation....

Frustrated by the difficulties in obtaining financing from Congress, administration officials had discussed invoking a little-known statute that would allow the president to declare a national emergency and then use military funds allocated for other construction projects to buy and retrofit the Illinois prison.
"A national emergency"! Obama wants to play nice with the terrorists and he has the gall to call this a national emergency! Congress should declare a national emergency to prevent Obama and his cronies from bringing the terrorists here! Incredible!
That statute, however, has never been used for a project quite like this one. Fearing that lawmakers would be angered by such a move and could respond by erasing the statute, the administration decided not to invoke it...

[It is also] not clear that Congress will be willing to approve money enabling the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to domestic soil — especially as the 2010 midterm election campaign heats up, with the likelihood that Republicans will pick up seats...
Read the full article.

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