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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Don't let him close it now for God's sake since it would be a message, plus, soon it will be very full: Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans - Of the 83 detainees transferred under Mr. Obama, five have participated in terrorist or insurgent activity afterward, and two others are suspected of doing so.

From The New York Times:

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One sweltering afternoon last month, a Boeing C-17 military transport plane arrived at the American naval base here. It had come to take six low-level detainees to new lives in Uruguay after 12 years of imprisonment.

Although President Obama pledged last year to revive his efforts to close Guantánamo, his administration has managed to free just one low-level prisoner this year, leaving 79 who are approved for transfer to other countries. It has also not persuaded Congress to lift its ban on moving the remaining 70 higher-level detainees to a prison inside the United States.

More than 12 years after the Bush administration sent the first prisoners here, tensions are mounting over whether Mr. Obama can close the prison before leaving office, according to interviews with two dozen administration, congressional and military officials. A split is emerging between State Department officials, who appear eager to move toward Mr. Obama’s goal, and some Pentagon officials, who say they share that ambition but seem warier than their counterparts about releasing low-level detainees.

Legal pressures are also building as the war in Afghanistan approaches its official end, and the judiciary grows uncomfortable with the military’s practice of force-feeding hunger strikers. And military officials here, faced with decaying infrastructure and aging inmates, are taking steps they say are necessary to keep Guantánamo operating — but may also help institutionalize it.

Mr. Obama has argued that Guantánamo should be closed because of its high costs, nearly $3 million per detainee annually, and because it endangers national security; it has become an anti-American symbol of past torture and other detainee abuses. Extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, who beheaded an American reporter in Syria last month, exploited those sentiments by forcing him to wear orange clothing like the garb worn by some Guantánamo’s detainees.

By law, the defense secretary has the final say on whether it is safe enough to release a detainee. Leon E. Panetta, the former defense secretary, approved no low-level transfers, but his successor, Chuck Hagel, approved 10 by December and another early this year.

Of the 83 detainees transferred under Mr. Obama, five have participated in terrorist or insurgent activity afterward, and two others are suspected of doing so, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In May, the White House sent Mr. Hagel a memo saying he should accept more than “zero risk” because allowing the prison to remain open raised risks, too. But Mr. Hagel told The Times that he was taking his time.

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