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Against Gitmo

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
May 22, 2009
National Review


It's been fun these past few weeks to watch President Obama and the Democrats twist and squirm over the issue of Guantanamo. After spending years scoring cheap political points at the Bush administration's expense, they are now finding that it's not so easy to close the detention facility after all. But in spite of all his loose campaign talk, President Obama is coming out in a pretty sensible place on the issue of terrorist detentions, and Republicans would be well-advised to support him instead of continuing their sniping.

In his speech at the National Archives, he said: "Rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.  It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it."

That's more or less the position that Sen. John McCain espoused during the campaign and one that I (having served as a McCain foreign-policy adviser) reluctantly came to agree with after having initially defended Gitmo's necessity. In the end, I think the facility is a strategic-communications liability even if most of the charges made against it are fictitious. No, it wasn't a place where innocent Muslims were routinely tortured. But, true or not, such charges are believed by all too many people around the world and, as Obama said, that hurts American security.

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