The President Scorns The People

At his news conference on Wednesday President Obama was asked about the military prision at Guantanamo Bay, which is still open and housing prisoners in spite of his promise, and his high profile executive order to shut it down by the end of 2009.

His answer, in part:

First, I want to Step back and say the the reason for wanting to close Guantanamo was my number one priority which is keeping us safe…and Guantanamo is probably the number one recruitment tool that is used by these Jihadist organizations…It has become a symbol and I think we can do just as good a job housing them somewhere else.

So what would the Jihadists do if Guantanamo were closed?  Would they become unable to recruit?  Is their recruiting effort so delicate it would fail if detainees were held in another prison?  Of course not.  They would simply substitute the name of the new facility in their recruiting message!  The Jihadist war on America would continue without missing a beat.

Does the President think we’ve forgotten there was no prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2001 when Al Queda successfully recruited 19 men and even taught some of the to pilot airplanes, all for a suicide mission against America?  Or maybe he just thinks were dumb.

10 Comments so far

  1. Help The 99ers on December 23rd, 2010

    This is what Matthew Alexander, a senior interrogator, had to say in 2008:

    I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

    The full article is worth your attention.

    After reading it, the question I’d ask is: do the benefits of Guanatanamo outweigh the disadvantages? Is a prison with a notorious (and accurate) reputation worth the cost of handing a free recruitment tool to our enemies?

  2. Drew on December 23rd, 2010

    But 99, and Alexander failed to address a key point made by Boomer: 9/11 preceded either of the supposed important recruiting tools. Further, it sloppy analysis to combine to two.

    Does anyone really believe that the recruitment would stop if Guantanamo was closed, and moved to another facility. That’s a childlike faith in the stupidity of AQ. The fact of the matter is that Gitmo was just a convenient symbol, easily transferrable to another.

  3. Help The 99ers on December 23rd, 2010

    Drew, you’re right that’s it’s a sloppy analysis to combine the two – that’s why the President didn’t do that, and neither did Alexander.

    If someone were holding a gun to your head, would you offer to give them some bullets? That’s what we did as a result of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo – we handed our enemy ammunition to use against us.

    To be clear: it’s not that there’s a prison at Gitmo – it’s that prisoners were abused there. The record of criticism and condemnation by our allies and by human rights organizations is pretty clear on the matter. The abuses at Abu Ghraib (remember the photographs?) and Gitmo played directly into the hands of Al Qaeda’s recruiters – we did their work for them.

    It’s not just President Obama’s opinion that Gitmo should be closed: it’s also General Colin Powell’s opinion, as well as the opinion of current Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

    Look at the article again:

    One [prisoner] actually told me [Alexander, the senior interrogator], “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

    Would recruitment stop if prisoners were moved to another facility? Of course not. But that’s beside the point. The point behind closing Guantanamo is that you don’t give your enemy ammunition. You don’t make it easy for them. Not if you want to win the war you’re fighting.

  4. BoomerJeff on December 24th, 2010

    The faulty assumption underlying Obama’s rationale and 99er’s argument is that Al Qaeda is somehow honor bound to edit its propaganda in response to truth or submissive gestures by America. This is absurdly naive and demonstrates ignorance of the history of warfare.

    Propaganda & mass communication are as much a weapon of war as a rifle or bomb, and in some circumstances more destructive. If the Jihadists think alleging torture is an effective recruiting tool then they will allege torture regardless of the status of Gitmo, and regardless of whether or not there actually was or is any torture.

    In the closing months of World War II tens of thousands of Japanese civilians killed their children and committed suicide because they believed their government’s propaganda that American troops were vicious sub-humans who would subject them to unspeakable acts.

    Wartime Propagandists care no more about truth than the 9-11 hijackers cared about the office furniture in the World Trade Center. They care only about waging war.

  5. Drew on December 25th, 2010

    To follow on to Boomer’s (correct) observation.

    Invoking the opinions of others is not very pursuasive when the faulty logic is incontrovertable. AQ’s hatred of the US – and the attacks of 9/11 – and hatred of the West in general, precedes Gitmo or Abu Ghraib. Further, there was no Gitmo in other western countries that have been recently attacked by AQ.

    Closure of this base is just a feel good gesture designed to placate the leftist political crowd, and will have no material impact. Other than to make the AQ hierarchy laugh at us.

  6. Help The 99ers on December 25th, 2010

    “The faulty assumption underlying Obama’s rationale and 99er’s argument is that Al Qaeda is somehow honor bound to edit its propaganda in response to truth or submissive gestures by America.”

    BoomerJeff, that is provably false and a sign that you’re not reading the argument.

    Read this part of the comment just above yours one more time:

    “Would recruitment stop if prisoners were moved to another facility? Of course not. But that’s beside the point.”

    No one is saying that propagandists are honor-bound to do anything. To say that we’re making faulty assumptions is simply wrong.

    No one is arguing that recruitment would stop. Trying to say that we are is setting up a strawman argument.

    Look what General Colin Powell had to say in his opinion (linked above):

    “Guantanamo has become a major, major problem… in the way the world perceives America and if it were up to me I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon… and I would not let any of those people go.”

    And this is what Admiral Mullen, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:

    “The chief of the U.S. military said Sunday he favors closing the prison here as soon as possible because he believes negative publicity worldwide about treatment of terrorist suspects has been ‘pretty damaging’ to the image of the United States.”

    Please take note that Admiral Mullen said that in January 2008 – before then-candidate Obama won the election.

    Further in the article:

    Mullen, whose previous visit was in December 2005 as head of the U.S. Navy, noted that President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates also have spoken publicly in favor of closing the prison.

    So, let’s lay out the timeline here:

    As early as 2006, President George W Bush spoke publicly in favor of closing Gitmo. (Google for “Bush close Guantanamo”)
    As early as 2007, his Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, also did so.
    In June 2007, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Colin Powell, also did so.
    In early 2008, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, also did so.
    During the 2008 Presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama did so, making it a campaign promise.
    Candidate John McCain did so as well, in 2007 and 2008.
    President Barack Obama did so, making it an Executive Order in 2009.

    All of the men above knew we were attacked on September 11th. All of the men above knew Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. And yet all of the men are on record voicing their opinion and desire to close Gitmo, and pretty much all for the same reason.

    Intelligence men like Gates and military men like Powell and Mullen probably know more about wartime propaganda than the three of us (and all of our friends and associates) put together, and yet they all want Gitmo closed.

    Drew, saying that this is “a feel good gesture designed to placate the leftist political crowd” completely ignores that fact that Bush, Gates, Powell, Mullen and McCain would not have cared a whit about the leftist political crowd in 2006-2008.

    BoomerJeff, saying that President Obama is “scorning the people” by voicing the exact same opinion as the other men listed above is preposterous. Was President Bush scorning the people? General Powell? Senator McCain?

  7. Drew on December 26th, 2010

    I see we have another wild eyed emotional poster in the person of Laurie.

    I note she does not, as does not Agent 99, deal with the most basic fact: prior to any mention of Gitmo, AQ recruited 19 hijackers who committed 9/11.

    Nor does she deal with the issue that foreign countries with no association with Gitmo have been attacked by AQ.

    Facts are a bitch, eh?

    Most importantly, both Laurie and 99 fail to acknowledge that Gitmo has not been closed under Obama’s watch. Of course he continues to make statements to placate the wild eyed left; but he has not taken real action. He’s managed to deal with other major issues: health care etc. But Gitmo just seems to slip……

    Perhaps he knows what intelligent people know (now that he’s off the campaign trail; and not just some light commentor on a blog site) that closing Gitmo is easy to say……….but hard to do. And on the list of priorities, is way, way low.

    But tell me, Laurie and 99, if you really believe what you say – that Gitmo is a huge AQ issue – resulting in deaths of our soldiers; why are you not calling for Obama’s impeachment? After all, he is renigging on a campaign promise; endangering our soldiers………..for what? Political gain? Answer me that?

  8. Sarah Livingston on December 27th, 2010

    My brother-in-law did 2 tours in Iraq and is in Afghanistan now. For whatever reason that I can’t understand the left wing media doesn’t want to tell the story in blunt terms like a soldier who has been there and seen it with his own eyes.

    Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Jihadists are killers. They are not wilting violets with sensitive feelings. They aren’t talking heads on TV. They are brutal men with bombs and machine guns. They don’t care about Guantanamo. They care about torturing and killing.

    In Iraq they killed 100 of their own Muslims, the people they said they were protecting from Bush and the “infidels” for every one American soldier. In Afghanistan they brutally torture and kill anyone who dares to disagree with them, including men, women, children, elderly, anyone. They kill people for talking to our troops. They kill people for just standing there watching when our troops drive by.

    Did they kill random Iraqi women and children in market places and Mosques and schools because of Guantanamo? No. they blow up innocent people because they are evil, brutal, barbarian savages.

    What about the attacks in London and Madrid and Bali and Phillipeans? Were those because of Guantanamo? They’ve been trying to kill all the Jews in Israel since 1948! Was that because of Guantanamo?

    They just laugh at us when we fight with each other about so-called torture and symbols like Guantanamo. Do you really think it would matter to them if we moved the prisoners somewhere else?

    I don’t care if Bush or Powell or any of the political elites say its so. To think that if we are sensitive to their little feelings about Guantanamo they might be nice to us is dippy!

  9. Archie on December 27th, 2010

    99er says “No one is arguing that recruitment would stop.”

    But in the original post Obama is quoted as saying Gitmo is “probably the number one recruitment tool.” No, he’s not saying recruitment would stop but he wants you to think to yourself: “I don’t know what the US Army’s ‘number one recruitment tool’ is, but I’ll bet recruitment would dry up if it were taken away.”

    So if it’s not abut recruitment then I don’t understand the arguments here, except that somehow it has something to do with torture, which if it happened at all is now in the past.

    If the average “recruit” out there in Saudi or Yemen thinks there was torture and hates us enough to submit his own life to a violent death because of it (doesn’t that seem far fetched?) you can’t change his mind by closing the place. Obama doesn’t even deny there was torture. In fact, he seems to think we should wallow in perpetual self-flagellation because of it.

    So maybe he hasn’t kept his promise to close gitmo because he wants it there to remind US about the “torture.” He doesn’t think we’re contrite enough about waterboarding a couple of guys in order to prevent thousands of civilian deaths in an attack by a foreign enemy.

  10. Help The 99ers on December 28th, 2010

    Archie,

    It’s not about eliminating recruitment, because that would be an impossible task. It’s about making recruitment harder. It’s about not handing them a gift-wrapped recruitment tool.

    And it’s absolutely about torture and abuse – that’s been the primary argument since President Bush made the case for closing Gitmo in May 2006:

    “Obviously, the Guantanamo issue is a sensitive issue for people,” Mr. Bush told ARD German television. “I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court.”

    Here’s what he said in a press conference in June 2006:

    “I’d like to close Guantanamo,” Mr Bush said. “But I also recognise that we’re holding some people that are darned dangerous, and that we’d better have a plan to deal with them in our courts.””No question, Guantanamo sends, you know, a signal to some of our friends – provides an excuse, for example, to say, ‘The United States is not upholding the values that they’re trying (to) encourage other countries to adhere to.'”

    And you have first-hand evidence that you can change minds: go back to the prisoner who was quoted as saying

    “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

    As far as “perpetual self-flagellation” – can you cite any evidence to support that assertion?

    You and Drew have both asked why, if President Obama wants the prison closed, it hasn’t happened yet. (Drew actually wanted to know why I haven’t called for impeachment because he’s reneged on his promise – breaking a promise isn’t an impeachable offense, Drew.) Here’s one reason:

    President Obama’s pledge to close the US terror detention camp at Guantanamo is now facing its most significant obstacle. On Wednesday, Congress gave final approval to a defense authorization bill that includes a provision blocking transfer of any Guantanamo detainees to the US – even to face a criminal trial. (source: Christian Science Monitor, December 22, 2010)

    Finally, Sarah asked “Do you really think it would matter to them if we moved the prisoners somewhere else?” To judge by the evidence, yes, it would. When have you ever heard anyone make the case that the supermax prison in Florence, CO is being used as a recruitment tool?