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Well, We've Got No Idea What We're Going to Do

3:10 PM, May 10, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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"Decision Points" is not just the title of George W. Bush's memoir -- it's also the Obama administration's Gitmo strategy. Which is to say, after announcing the closure of Gitmo, the administration has, according to National Security Adviser Jim Jones, not made a single decision about how to implement that policy. I've removed the questions from the transcript since they're largely irrelevant -- the answers are all the same: no decision has been taken or made or reached or determined. As McCain would point out later in the show, maybe they should have figured some of this out before they announced -- and took credit -- for closing the facility. And keep in mind these are successive answers all dealing with Gitmo:

JONES: Well, the first think I would say about that is there has been no decision taken. This is an issue that we are - the president is studying but absent the final determination this is all speculation....

JONES: Well, we'll take that under advisement. These are near term subject that are currently being discussed and that is going to have to be one of the decision points and one of the discussions that we'll have on this issue but it hasn't been determined yet.

JONES: Well, if you're going to ask other to take some, you're going to have to figure out how you're going to have to do that and that's where we are right now. No decision has been taken as to exactly how to do that.

JONES: Well, the - again, the very discussions on these issues and how to do this are currently on the table at the White House. We are coming up on the 20 May deadline for a decision so there will be some announcements made in the near future but no decision has been taken yet.

JONES: I think the - all options are on the table...

Will detainees be released into the United States, will the entire prison be relocated to the United States, will military commissions be resumed, will the President ask governors and state legislatures for their consent before building a new Gitmo in their states? One has to ask whether the administration might already have made some of these decisions if Jones didn't have to bike across the Potomac for lunch everyday and get home for dinner by 7.

Jones was equally evasive on other subjects. Does he believe Osama bin Laden is still alive? Read the transcript and judge the incoherence for yourself. Where does the administration stand on DADT? The president is going to listen to all sides very carefully before he makes a decision. And how will the administration proceed in the peace process? Jones once again linked negotiations to the threat from Iran in what is fast becoming official, if unannounced, policy:

JONES:...And we understand Israel's preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat. We agree with that.

And by the same token, there are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution.

Does this administration really believe that Tehran's nuclear program is motivated by the failure of the peace process? How was that decision made, or like the decision to close Gitmo, is it simply dictated by ideology?

Update: A reader responds to this last quote from Jones on the existential threat to Israel:

This is so farcical one doesn't know whether to laugh or be terrified. Only if Iran's nuclear program does NOT pose an "existential" threat, but results from a normal quarrel or grievance, could it perhaps be "diminished" by working towards a two-state solution--but if it is an existential threat, then Jones's comments are gibberish. The semi-coherent version of what Jones should have said is that working toward a two-state solution might help rally other countries to put more pressure on Iran, etc.--but Jones couldn't even manage to say that.