Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama stumps for Guantanamo closure - why doesn't he ask the president?

President Barack Obama on Friday admitted he fell short on his vow to empty the prison camps at Guantanamo, calling it a rare unfulfilled campaign promise, then stumped for closure by calling the Pentagon outpost too expensive.

"The costs of holding folks in Guantanamo is massively higher than it is in holding them in a SuperMax maximum-security prison here in the United States," Obama said at a White House news conference a day before the Sept. 11 anniversary.

The Pentagon reports the annual cost of running the prison camps, staffed by a variety of U.S. military troops, at $116 million. With a current population of 176 war-on-terror detainees, that's more than $650,000 each. In contrast, it costs nearly $5,575 a year to keep a prisoner in federal detention, said Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley on Friday. A SuperMax captive's cost might be a bit higher, she said, because of additional security.

Obama also defended his administration's practice of choosing to send some Guantanamo detainees to trial in civilian courts and others to the Pentagon's military commissions.

Soon after taking office, Obama signed an executive order setting a one-year deadline to empty the prison camps that were then holding some 260 detainees. The Jan. 22 closure date passed with business as usual in the outpost in southeast Cuba.

If only Obama knew the president, maybe he could get the president to help him keep his promise. Oh, wait, he is the president . . .

By the way, it's not "a rare unfulfilled campaign promise". But, it is a promise no one would care about if he had kept his promise to keep unemployment under 8%.

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