All Packed Up and No Place to Go

Posted on September 25, 2009

I guess we should file this one under “Make Sure You Have a Plan That You Can Follow Through On Before Announcing What You’re Going to Do.”

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Obama Administration will have a hard time in meeting the deadline it imposed upon itself to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison. 

With four months remaining, the administration has hit a  few “snags” in the relocation of the terror suspects who cannot stay, yet have no where to go.  The original point man on the project was Greg Craig, who pushed for the deadline  against the advisement of some in the outgoing Bush administration to do so, without having a final destination determined

Now that it seems the detainees at Gitmo might be having a longer than expected stay,  the Obama Administration, is trying to fault the outgoing Bush Administration for missing their own self-imposed deadline.  Color me surprised, not!

They claim that one of the major issues was that the detainee files were in disarray:

“We assumed that for each detainee there was going to be a file somewhere,” one senior administration official said. “Some of the intelligence files were not even organized by detainee. You had to go into a mainframe database and search the name of the detainee to put together a file. So there were weeks, if not months, of putting together the files of detainees that then could be reviewed by the fresh eyes that we wanted.”

Really?  I thought electronic records were supposed to be much better than any paper files. Didn’t we just pass a law requiring all of our medical records to be uploaded electronically and stored for ease of recall?  Even if the claims of hardship for recreating these records are true, the first rule of planning is to know the scope of the situation before committing to any defined timeline.  Was Mr. Craig not made aware of the situation?  Read on.

Mr. Craig also adds that he thought that Republicans had spoken publicly about the closing, which, in turn, led him to believe that there was some agreement  to shut the prisoner facility down:

“I thought there was, in fact, and I may have been wrong, a broad consensus about the importance to our national security objectives to close Guantanamo and how keeping Guantanamo open actually did damage to our national security objectives,” he said.

Mr. Craig had apparently met with “top security lawyers who had served in Democratic and Republican administrations to discuss the closing before the election.  Even after being advised by some in the Bush administration not to set a deadline, he went ahead and did it anyway. In fact:

“The entire civil service counseled him not to set a deadline” to close Guantanamo, according to one senior government lawyer.

So Mr. Craig claims there was some kind of consensus on shutting down Gitmo even though he was advised not to?

With the date set, Mr. Craig apparently grew busy with other commitments like vetting and the Sotomayor appointment, and the push to relocate the detainees fell by the wayside.

Adding to  the administration’s difficulties, disapproval for Gitmo’s closure by the public has been growing.  So much so that it has received substantial blowback from its own party who have denied funding for the closing until they see some kind of plan. 

So now, four months out from the deadline, we have a number of terror suspects with no place to call home.  And the Obama Administration once again wants to blame Bush for something he agreed to against advice from the Bush Administration.

This reminds me of another plan that went awry.  Do you remember “Cash for Clunkers?”   The  program was initially supposed to cost $1 Billion, but ran out of money after the first four days of  implementation. It had to be bouyed by another $2 Billion in additional taxpayer funds.   This does not give me confidence in the administration’s planning ability.

Now we are being pushed to adopt  guaranteed health insurance coverage for every person in the U.S.  The proposed bills in Congress haven’t even had as much time for scrutiny as the closing of Gitmo and they expect us to believe their plan will be successful?

Before taking on another project, how about they show us they can come up with a plan and finish what they started?

Posted in: War on Terror