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Obama's Gitmo Problem

3:24 PM, Dec 30, 2008 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Alan Rogers of USA Today captures one of the central dilemmas facing the new Obama administration here:

President-elect Barack Obama vowed on the campaign trail to shut down the terrorist detention center at Guantánamo Bay. But he never said what he would do with the prisoners there.

What to do with the 250 alleged foreign terrorists at the Cuba prison is the real question facing Obama, experts say.

Rogers cites my research on the Guantánamo detainees, but that is not the only reason you should read the piece. (Ha!) Rogers also cites a new study by the Brookings Institution that is similar to the research I have been doing in many ways. The Brookings study was authored by Benjamin Wittes, who is always worth reading when it comes to Guantánamo and U.S. detention policy.

In addition to making a determination about what to do with the current detainees, the Obama administration would be wise to keep an eye on the former detainees as well. As Wittes and USA Today remind us, hundreds of detainees have been repatriated to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where we rely on foreign governments to keep an eye on them. The fact that the U.S. repatriated these suspects does not necessarily mean that they are not dangerous. Some of them, for example, were involved in al Qaeda's anthrax program.

In the weeks to come, we'll have more on the current and former Guantánamo detainees -- who they are as well as the difficulties the new administration faces in determining what to do with them and how to make sure they do not rejoin the jihad.