President Barack Obama said in an interview aired on Monday he worried that detainees freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, might resume attacks on the United States.But he told NBC News that closure of the prison was a matter of upholding U.S. values and law, and that a failure to do so would ultimately make Americans less secure.
"Can we guarantee that they're not going to try to participate in another attack? No," Obama said. "But what I can guarantee is that if we don't uphold our Constitution and our values, that over time that will make us less safe. And that will be a recruitment tool for organizations like al-Qaeda."
I have to make the very best judgments I can make in terms of what's going to keep the American people safe and ... what's going to uphold our Constitution and our traditions of due process," Obama said. "And what I'm convinced of is -- we can balance those interests in a way that makes all of us proud but also assures that we're not attacked."
So, what President Obama is saying is that he is willing to sacrifice the real safety America will lose by releasing dangerous terrorists so that we can have the theoretical safety of "upholding our values".
There have been 62 former residents of GITMO that have wound up back on the battlefield to kill Americans. President Obama is willing to see more and even increase those numbers. The President is willing to do this because the real safety we give up by keeping these folks locked up is worth less, in his mind, than the theoretical safety we get by leading "with moral authority".
President Obama appears to have decided to fight the GWOT in the theoretical world. The President has decided that theoretical protections created by intangible concepts like "moral authority" are worth more than keeping our enemy locked up when we capture them. Unfortunately, the GWOT won't be fought in a theoretical battlefield but a real one. You cannot win a war if you don't do everything possible to eliminate the enemy. If you release those that you have captured so that they do battle with your own soldiers again, that is no way to wage a war. Moral authority or not, unless you fight a war in reality rather than in theory, you simply are not going to win.