Jim Kouri
Obama to defy GOP on Gitmo policy
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By Jim Kouri
January 5, 2011

White House officials say that President Barack Obama and his national security team are planning to block the GOP-lead Congress' efforts to impede the president's plans for the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military detention center and its inmate population of captured terrorists and enemy combatants.

The officials claim they are prepared for a confrontation between the president and the new Congress on an issue that has been politically divisive since Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

The original Guantanamo policy, which included limits on where and how prisoners will be tried, were attached to a spending bill for military pay and benefits approved by the Democrat-led Congress late last year.

Some of the President's advisors are recommending that Obama sign the spending bill and then issue a statement that he is opposed to the Guantanamo sections without addressing their constitutionality. The statement would likely be released along with a new executive order that outlined review procedures for some — but not all — of the 174 Guantanamo prisoners still held without charge or trial, according to an intelligence source.

Obama has used signing statements in the past, but this one would carry political significance as the first test of his relationship with a Congress in which the House is firmly in Republican control.

The reliance on detention orders and a signing statement — tools used repeatedly by former President George W. Bush, who built Guantanamo nearly a decade ago — is seen by Obama's security and military advisers as among the few options left for an administration that has watched the steady erosion of Obama's first pledge nearly two years ago to close the prison.

Dozens of suspected terrorists have been freed from Guantanamo since Obama issued an executive order last year calling for a comprehensive "review" of all detainees and a total of 598 have been released so far, according to officials at Judicial Watch, a public-interest, watchdog group that investigates government and political corruption.

One hundred fifty are confirmed or suspected of "reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer," according to a report issued by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to Congress.

At least 83 "remain at large" and if additional detainees are released, some will "reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities," says the DNI assessment.

Created by Congress in 2004 to force collaboration between the nation's spy agencies, the DNI claims to be the country's first line of defense, serving as the head of the intelligence community by integrating foreign, military and domestic intelligence that protects the U.S. from terrorist threats.

The newly released DNI assessment is hardly earth-shattering news. Nearly two years ago the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed a sharp rise in the number of Guantanamo detainees who rejoin terrorist missions after leaving U.S. custody.

Using data such as fingerprints, pictures and other reports the defense agency, which gathers foreign military intelligence, determined that the number of Middle Eastern terrorists who returned to "the fight" after being released nearly doubled in a short time.

Earlier this year, officials at Judicial Watch reported that at least a dozen Guantanamo inmates rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen shortly after being released. A terrorist hotbed and popular Al Qaeda training ground, Yemen has been deemed a high security threat by the State Department and it's where the Christmas Day airline bomber proudly trained.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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