Months ago, Barack Obama promised to close Gitmo and criticized the “torture” of detainees.
From USA Today December 15, 2009.
“Security concerns hang over Gitmo inmates’ move to Ill”
“President Obama’s announcement that the government will send as many as 100 terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay to an Illinois prison raised questions and sparked protests Tuesday over whether the new lockup will pose a security risk.
In a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, top administration officials including Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the plan “part of the president’s aggressive posture in the fight against al-Qaeda.”
The decision to buy a nearly vacant state prison in Thomson, Ill., to house alleged terrorists is the latest step in Obama’s effort to close the Guantanamo detention center, a symbol for detainee abuses under George W. Bush.”
“Critics were unmoved by the assurances. Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president and an official with the conservative group Keep America Safe, said voters didn’t elect Obama to “usher terrorists onto the homeland and call it a jobs program.”
Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, said Obama is “playing into the hands of the jihadist propaganda” by closing Guantanamo.”
“Of those still at Guantanamo, the Pentagon says about 95 are slated to be returned to their own or other countries, five will be tried in New York, and five tried before military commissions. Most of the remaining 100 or so would be sent to Thomson, either to be held indefinitely or tried by military tribunals.”
Nine days before Christmas, December 16, 2009, Senator Mitch McConnell had this to say about Obama’s Gitmo strategy.
Today, December 29, 2009, Obama stated that there had been systemic failures in our national security system.
From the NY Times, December 29, 2009.
“On the White House: A Phrase Sets Off Sniping After a Crisis”
“Making his second public statement on the matter in as many days, Mr. Obama said a preliminary assessment already has made clear that there was a breakdown in the intelligence review system that did not properly identify the suspect as a dangerous extremist who should have been prevented from flying to the United States.
“A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable,” Mr. Obama told reporters here in Hawaii, where is in the middle of a 10-day holiday vacation. The president said he has ordered government agencies to report back to him on Thursday about what happened and said he would “insist on accountability at every level,” although he did not elaborate.”
:The president suggested that he would overhaul the nation’s watch-list system. “We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks,” he said. “But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.””
““It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list,” Mr. Obama said of the father’s warning. “There appears to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together.””
In typical Obama fashion, he laid blame on the past:
“But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.”
And Obama made no mention of the Gitmo connection to the terrorist plot.
From ABC News, December 28, 2009.
“Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.”
“Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.
American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia, where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. ABC News described their enrollment in the art therapy program in a January report. (See video to the left.)
Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.
Both Saudi nationals have since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and the men’s own statements on al Qaeda propaganda tapes.
Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January, 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary.”