Following up on recent statements from Robert Gates about how difficult it will be to close Guantanamo Bay by his January 22nd headline, the Obama administration has cleared the release of 75 prisoners from Gitmo. Now I know this is what he was going for initially and it may have been in the works for some time now, but Obama, this is a pretty serious play to the media. Not two days later and you clear the release 75 of the 223 remaining? That’s 1/3 of people who a few years ago were regarded as dangerous enough to go to one of the highest level security detention centers in the world- the prison that hold the people suspected of threatening the United States.
Ok, so it’s not Obama himself but an Obama task force charged with reviewing the remaining prisoners, and this is part of his plan. But what you saw in that last paragraph is what I expect the media and general population response to be to this kind of an announcement. 75? That’s a big number to put on a headline.
The team is charged with deciding which detainees or prisoners will be held at another facility, which will be released and who will be resettled in a different country.
And this is strange: as the review team clears people to be released the camp is posting a list so that all of the detainees know who is going to be released. Now, forgive me for raising the proverbial eyebrow, but really? You are going to tell terrorism suspects well in advance that they are or are not going to be released? Shouldn’t it just kind of happen? What if we release the wrong guy and all the other guys give him messages for all the other bad guys or something?
"It was an opportunity to just provide better communication," said Navy Lieutenant Commander Brook DeWalt, spokesman for the operation "There's a lot of information out there and you get a lot of things from a lot of different angles. It helps put it in a more succinct context for them."
What? What other context do they need? You’re in Guantanamo Bay for a long, long time. I’m sure you think of little else besides leaving. Then one day, you get to leave. Or maybe, you just get put on a list of people who get to leave.
The current list includes two Uzbek detainees recently sent to Ireland and a Yemeni man recently sent back to Yemen.
"We are not focused on whether the deadline will or won't be met on a particular day. We are focused on making ... the most progress that is possible,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Many of the other detainees are being released to Palau, a Pacific Island nation.
The majority of the detainees being released were captured soon after 9/11 when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. That’s 8 years these guys have been in there. What are they going to do now that they are getting out, apparently with no charges? That’s the story I want to hear about. That’s a documentary waiting to be made.