Are you Shocked?Op-Ed: Obama closes office devoted to closing Guantanamo

(Digital Journal) -The Obama administration has decided to close the office  devoted to closing the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. The special envoy associated  with the office has been reassigned and not replaced.

A report in the New  York Times claims:

“The announcement that no senior official in President Obama’s  second term will succeed Mr. Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues  aimed at repatriating or resettling detainees ,appeared to signal that the  administration does not currently see the closing of the Guantánamo Bay prison  as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do  so.”

Fried’s former  responsibilities will be taken over by the office of the department’s legal  adviser with no senior official replacing him.

Even back in May 2009, Obama  shelved a plan to bring a number of innocent and wrongly detained prisoners to  the US who could not safely be repatriated. Worthington also points out :

“In January 2010,” he imposed a ban on releasing any cleared Yemeni  prisoners, after it was revealed that the failed underwear bomb plot of  Christmas 2009 was hatched in Yemen, even though the deeply insulting rationale  for the ban is that Yemenis, although cleared for release, can instead be  imprisoned for life on the basis of ‘guilt by nationality.’”

To be fair, Congress has done all it  can to block Obama from closing Guantanamo or giving innocent detainees refuge  in the US. In some cases courts have blocked Obama as well. The announcement  happens just as 5 detainees at Guantanamo are facing death penalty charges  before a military tribunal over the 9/11 attacks. The detainees were informed  they had the right not to attend future sessions of the hearings. All five said  they understood their right but one detainee said that there was no motivation  to attend anyway since  “the prosecution does not want us to hear or understand  or say anything.”

Daniel Fried’s post of special envoy  was created in 2009, not long after Obama assumed the presidency and had  promised to close the prison within a year. Fried worked hard, traveling the  world trying to repatriate detainees cleared for release. He repatriated 31  detainees and also persuaded third-party countries to resettle another 40  detainees.

However, as the US Congress imposed  more and more restrictions on any further transfers, Fried had less to do. In  fact, Fried was given the task of resettling Iranian exiles from the M.E.K,.  designated a terrorist group by the US, who had been living in a refugee camp in  Iraq.

A  spokesperson for Fried’s office said:

“We remain committed to closing Guantánamo, and doing so in a  responsible fashion. The administration continues to express its opposition to  Congressional restrictions that impede our ability to implement transfers.”

The most recent defense authorization  act restricts Obama’s ability to transfer detainees even further. While Obama  threatened to veto the bill, he signed it instead. He did, however, issue a  statement saying that as commander in chief he had the power to override the  restrictions since they involve wartime prisoners.

Recently, a federal appeals court  in Washington vacated  guilty verdicts against two detainees because the crimes of which they were  convicted were not internationally recognized war crimes. Attorney General Eric  Holder Jr., nevertheless, continues to argue that it is permissible to bring  such conspiracy charges before a military commission.

President Obama, as well as the US  Congress, has made it clear that the rule of law in the US includes indefinite  detention with no charges and without any real due process. Since holding too  many people is an embarrassment and an expense, Obama also carries out a  targeted killing program on suspects that avoids the cost of keeping prisoners  indefinitely.

It would seem that Obama also believes  in indefinite closing of Guantanamo.