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Pentagon: We Are On Track To Close Gitmo, No Seriously

6:21 PM, May 19, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Today, the Pentagon said the U.S. is on schedule to close Gitmo by January 2010. According to AFP, DOD spokesman Geoff Morrell said, "I see nothing to indicate that that date is at all in jeopardy." Morrell added,

"As far as I can tell, everything remains on track for action to be taken with regard to the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility according to the timeline prescribed by the president in the executive order."

I can think of a few things that may indicate the January 2010 date is in jeopardy.

The Obama administration does not yet have a plan for closing Gitmo. Congress has demanded that it come up with one. The bureaucracies in Washington are scrambling to oblige. As Morrell himself notes, Pentagon employees are in "near constant meetings with their counterparts" at Foggy Bottom and the Justice Department. They are discussing this "complicated" issue.

Attorney General Holder has said that closing Gitmo is the most daunting challenge he faces. That's how complicated the situation is.

Leading Democrats (including Senator Harry Reid) and Republicans have said they don't want Gitmo detainees transferred to detention facilities in the U.S., let alone released in the U.S. Originally, the Obama administration wanted to release at least several Uighur detainees onto U.S. soil. This was supposed to be part of a quid pro quo with European nations - a way to show that we were willing to spread the risk around.

The administration's Gitmo diplomacy has gone nowhere. European nations are not keen on taking the detainees.

Congress has declined, thus far, to provide the funding the administration has requested for closing Gitmo.

There are about 100 citizens of Yemen at Gitmo - the most of any nationality. Most of the Yemenis are alleged to have significant terrorist ties. Their home country is a mess and infested with al Qaeda terrorists. The situation in Yemen is so tenuous that the Obama administration, which originally wanted to send the Yemeni detainees home, is attempting to find somewhere else to transfer them. Saudi Arabia, the supposedly next best option, does not really want the Yemenis and it is not clear that the Saudi rehabilitation program could even house them.

Other than that, closing Gitmo should be easy.