Shortly after opening its political office in Doha, Qatar earlier this week, the Taliban floated the idea of exchanging U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been in captivity since 2009, for the top five Taliban leaders in U.S. custody at Guantanamo. The offer, which has been a longstanding Taliban demand, was first reported by the Associated Press.
Thursday, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Gary Robbins delivered another response to the "many concerns" expressed by Russia about the ongoing hunger strike by many of the terrorist detainees at the Guantánamo Bay facility:
President Barack Obama talked about Gitmo prisoners today and said, "I don't want these individuals to die."
"For a lot of Americans, the notion is out of sight, out of mind," Obama said, after referring to his failed attempt to close the terrorist prison. "It's easy to demagogue the issue. That's what happened the first time this came up. I'm going to go back at it because I think it's important."
White House spokesman Jay Carney took a minute before his press briefing today to reflect. "I want to welcome you to the first full day of the President’s second term. It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be here working for this President and for the country," the former Time magazine journalist said.
Four years ago today, on January 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed "EXECUTIVE ORDER -- REVIEW AND DISPOSITION OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT THE GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE AND CLOSURE OF DETENTION FACILITIES." In particular, the executive order stated:
The White House revealed yesterday that there "approximately 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay" right now. The news was in Obama's "war powers resolution" letter, which is meant "to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat."
Omar Khadr has been sent from Guantanamo to Canada, after returning from the jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khadr is slated to stay in custody for the time being. It is difficult to think of a more mythologized figure in the post-9/11 war on terror. For the worldwide left, Khadr has become a symbol of all that is supposedly wrong with America’s fight against the al Qaeda terror network. He is now, in many minds, a victim. For one Canadian magazine, Omar Khadr is even a Christ-like figure.
At the Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz has a piece about Jose Rodriguez, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Rodriguez warns that the CIA is “out of the business” of interrogating senior al Qaeda terrorists and this will eventually lead to a hole in America’s counterterrorism efforts, if it hasn’t already. Time will tell if Rodriguez is right. The Obama administration is betting that he isn’t, and that by killing select al Qaeda leaders in drone strikes the terrorist threat is fully neutralized. There are significant problems with the Obama administration’s approach, even absent the prickly debate over interrogations.
Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and National Clandestine Service, has made quite a splash in the past couple of days. Building on arguments in his new book, Hard Measures, Rodriguez has dealt with all of the most controversial aspects of the CIA’s response to 9/11 in his television appearances and op-eds. In particular, Rodriguez has offered a spirited defense of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) used on senior al Qaeda operatives.