Guantanamo: A Little Help from Your Friends

So how do you shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? It is a vexing issue, and it seems is clear there are no easy answers.

Earlier this year it appeared administration officials had become acutely aware of the quagmire before them. Gone was Little Miss Sunshine. No pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow — just a bunch of guys stuck at a highly secure facility 90 miles from U.S. soil.

Team White House needed help. They required accurate information they could act on. They wanted realistic inside scoop from those in the know from which a workable plan could be formed.

The calls went out and the experts in this murky area came in. Those with specialized experience in any of the detainee disciplines (running a prison, releasing detainees, and defending detainees, just to name a few) have been consulted, often called to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Doug Stone has met with officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder.

Stone has been credited with revolutionizing detainee operations in Iraq. We had hoped a job offer might result — detainee czar, GITMO god, but it seems he will still command Marine Forces Reserve, as his three star congressional stamp of approval states.

The day before his national security speech at the National Archives, the president met with a group of 14 or so in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. We hear the gathering included those who could help the administration with Guantanamo and those who had become a hindrance that the president seemed to want to move into his camp. Retired Navy lieutenant commander and former Navy lawyer Charlie Swift, now a Seattle-based attorney, attended. Swift has a unique understanding of military tribunals: He represented Osama bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan (the Man-Boy of Yemen) at trial. He was a part of the team that won the Supreme Court’s Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.  We assume he was seen as helping the cause. Those considered less-than-helpful in the effort to at least understand Guantanamo included the American Civil Liberties Union (or so we hear).

The Obama Administration may be no closer to closing Guantanamo Bay than it had hoped, but it is much better informed.

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