Not only has President Barack Hussein Obama failed to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility (one of his primary campaign promises), he, through his administration, has spent $744,000 of taxpayer money on a new soccer (football to the rest of the world) field for detainees, some of them al-Queda and Taliban fighters. The field, half the size of a standard soccer field, is located at Camp 6, and reserved for “highly compliant” detainees. The field has special passages that allow detainees to go from the detention center to the outdoors without a military escort, a soft walking track, security cameras, and a razor wire fence. It should be open for detainees to use up to 20 hours a day after bathrooms and goal posts are added.
And this comes when the defense budget is, at Obama’s direction, being cut by at least $480 billion.
Immediately after being sworn in as president in January, 2009, Obama’s first actions pertained to “fixing the mess at Guantanamo,” (his words) was to issue an executive order to close it within a year, end all coercive interrogations, halt the military commission then in progress against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 co-defendants (so he could bring them to NYC for civilian trial), and review detention operations. The review of detention operations confirmed that detainees were treated humanely, and detention operations were in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
But that wasn’t enough. The review, led by a four-star admiral, looked at 27 areas of interest that recommended several measures to make life more comfortable for detainees. Among the recommendations were providing detainees with “more human-to-human contact, recreation opportunities with several detainees together, intellectual stimulation and group prayer,” recommendations designed to keep about 200 al-Queda and Taliban fighters and facilitators as happy as they could possibly be. I’m quite sure that the families of 9/11 victims were happy about the recommendations.
So why did Obama commit to improving the lives of Gitmo detainees even further? He had no clue about what he was talking. He had no clue what it was really like when he was campaigning, when he was elected, and when he was sworn in as president. He conveniently ignored the fact that the US was forced into a war with radical Islam and that Gitmo’s detention facilities were consistent with the “law of war,” allowing nations to hold enemy combatants until the end of hostilities. He also believed that abusing detainees was the norm, but investigations showed less than 1% of detainees were ever abused (if you characterize water-boarding as abuse), and mostly the result of interrogations to prevent a second 9/11. The ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, who advocated for detainee rights, all had no comment.
The $744,000 price is very significant, as anything over $749,000 needs congressional approval.
With Gitmo serving as a highly symbolic platform, Obama condemned George W. Bush, and he saw Gitmo as the perfect way to kick-off his world apology tour.
But that’s just my opinion.