Q Robert, does the President still expect to close Guantanamo Bay one year after his announcement, which would be I guess January 20, 2010? And is --
MR. GIBBS: I think it's the 21st or 22nd, but, yes.
Q Twenty-first, thank you. And is he still planning on issuing a detailed map, if you will, of how to get there in another two months from now?
MR. GIBBS: I don't understand the second part.
Q Did he not say on January 22nd that within six months he would sort of issue -- the administration would issue plans for how it intended to close Guantanamo?
MR. GIBBS: I'd have to go back and look. I mean, obviously, Sheryl, the President remains committed to closing Guantanamo.
Q On January 22nd?
MR. GIBBS: On whatever date he previously intoned in the executive order.
Q And he's still confident that he can do that?
MR. GIBBS: He is. There are multiple task forces that are -- have been stood up, and are meeting to deal with the issues surrounding that closure.
There were many of us that were dubious of the President's claim that he would close GITMO by January 2010 from the beginning. He said it in his second day on the job. He never said where any of these terrorists would go. GITMO has become a punching bag for the left for going on six years. Yet, no one that has criticized GITMO has offered a credible alternative. That's how I was very dubious that Obama would actually be able to fulfill his promise of closing GITMO. For nearly two years he criticized GITMO, what he never did was offer a credible alternatitve. Still, Gibbs was confident back in this May briefing the administration would follow through on its promise.
Then, roadblocks began to appear. Only a handful of detainees were received by other nations and most of those were only received after we bribed them. Then, the Congress, nearly unanimously, cut off funds for the transfer of GITMO detainees without a plan. That happened in May. Then, all the sticky questions began. Where would the detainees be tried? What would happen if they were acquitted? What rights would they have, etc? Then, there was a very contentious town hall meeting in Michigan, a potential site for where some detainees would be moved, in which citizens furiously objected to any suggestions that any GITMO detainees would be moved there.
Still, the administration put on a happy face. In fact, as recently as this week, the President proclaimed in front of the UN that one of his accomplishments is the upcoming closure of GITMO. The closure of GITMO was one of several things that Obama cited in which he felt that the U.S. was joining the rest of the world.
The problem is that GITMO won't be closed by January 20th as promised, and the administration is finally acknowledging that.
President Obama is unlikely to close the much-maligned detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in time to meet the self-imposed deadline of January, as his administration runs into daunting legal and logistical hurdles in moving the more than 220 detainees still being held there.
The difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving other thorny questions mean the president's promised January deadline may slip, senior administration officials acknowledged for the first time Friday to FOX News.
The political damage of all of this will be directly related to just how quickly GITMO is closed and how messy that closure becomes. If it is closed in May of 2010 and that transition is smooth, the damage is minimal. If it's still open in November of 2010, that will be a huge problem not only for Obama but the Demorats in general.
President Obama's problem here remains the same. The reason that GITMO will likely not close by January is because there's absolutely no plan for where they can be moved if it's not GITMO. The president made this proclamation when clearly he had no clue what he would do. That's still the case. If the Democrats had stopped to think in the middle of their non stop criticism, they might have realized that the reason Bush kept GITMO open was because it was the best of bad options. Where exactly should we hold KSM? If he's moved into the U.S., then an ACLU lawyer will immediately move to mandate full constitutional rights to him. Then, KSM will lawyer up and we won't get any more information from him.
So, I'd be stunned if most of the folks currently in GITMO now aren't still in GITMO come November of 2012.