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Obama and the Islamic State: The Gitmo Factor

President Barack Obama won't commit ground troops to face the Islamic State in Iraq because he fears potential detainees and then the need to fill Gitmo with bad guys again, which is the opposite from what he promised in 2009.

This image reviewed by the US military shows two members of the US Navy standing in the hallway in Cell Block C in the 'Camp Five' detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 19, 2012.

President Barack Obama won’t commit ground troops to fight the Islamic State because to do so would mean the possibility of taking captives, and it would be a huge nail in his political coffin if those detainees were sent to the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a place Obama promised to close over five years ago.

On January 22, 2009, newly elected President Obama signed Executive Order 13942, which, among other things, ordered the closure of Gitmo, “no later than 1 year from the date of [the] order.”

Obama’s stated reasons for wanting to close the detention facility at Gitmo include our “standing overseas,” and that “it’s a recruitment tool for terrorists." It’s hard to imagine our standing overseas being worse, and Gitmo is the least of it. Besides, those who are most vocal for it’s closing other than Obama are Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups!

This image reviewed by the US military shows two members of the US Navy standing in the hallway in Cell Block C in the 'Camp Five' detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 19, 2012. This image reviewed by the US military shows two members of the US Navy standing in the hallway in Cell Block C in the 'Camp Five' detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 19, 2012.

As far as Gitmo being a recruiting tool, under the Islamist edict of “taqiyya” deception of infidels is a way of life, so anything former detainees have to say about the facility or their treatment there is deceiving hearsay. September 11, 2001 is the only recruiting tool our enemies will ever need.

Since its inception in December of 2001, over 600 detainees have been released from Gitmo, including five Taliban leaders in exchange for a suspected U.S. Army deserter, and NONE have been executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets. All things our Islamist enemies have done to our allies and us. If anything, Obama has turned Gitmo into an Islamist rest and recreation destination before returning them to the battlefield.

Gitmo remains the finest military detention facility in the world. The Islamist equivalent is a pile of heads.

The recidivism rate at Gitmo, as of March, 2014 for released Guantanamo detainees, according to the Director of National intelligence is 29 percent. One percent is too much, given that the Geneva Conventions stipulate that even lawful combatant POWs may be held without charge “until the end of hostilities,” and the fact that it only takes ONE terrorist to kill MANY innocent people. Why take the risk?

Why indeed.

The Geneva Conventions were written to encourage the protection of innocent civilians and property by belligerents in wartime by promising certain protections to those who follow the rules. They were not written to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to murder them.

Obama and Holder went to work on the standing Military Commissions Act of 2006 soon after taking office in 2009. The Military Commissions Act of 2009 they crafted gives detainees virtually the SAME RIGHTS as you or I would enjoy in a federal court of law, including a presumption of innocence and a conviction standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” all unprecedented for enemy combatants prior to the change.

Why Holder and Obama felt the previous law was too harsh we can only extrapolate from their behavior: leniency and release for unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us.

Human Rights First reports that to date nearly 500 terrorists have been convicted in U.S. federal courts since 9/11/01, but that just over 300 convicted terrorists are serving time in federal prisons. My question is, where are the other almost 200 convicted terrorists? In YOUR neighborhood? Fighting with the Islamic State? Both?

Which brings us back to why Obama refuses to consider a ground offensive against the Islamic State. If we put boots-on-ground versus the Islamic State and we capture some of them, or they surrender en mass a la Iraqis in the First Gulf War, where would Obama put them?

We learned in Afghanistan that the war zone is not a safe or secure place to keep detained Islamists. They riot, they escape, and people complain about the conditions and their treatment. Gitmo, former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld’s “least worst place,” is in fact the finest military detention facility in the history of civilization, yet our own president, our Commander in Chief, criticizes and denounces it.

If we fight the Islamic State on the ground and begin taking prisoners, like the first detainees taken from the battlefield in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, some will have battle wounds that need care. Treating battle wounds of the enemy is a highly specialized and delicate process and requires specialized personnel and resources including supplies, facilities and equipment.

Why be so “compassionate?” A healthy and safe detainee is less dangerous to himself and others. Keeping them fat and happy also makes them more pliable and cooperative, which is also good for business.

If Obama takes prisoners and/or Islamic State fighters surrender in droves, would he be forced to fill up Gitmo? I believe he fears EXACTLY that.

As bad as things are now with the Obama administration, putting large numbers of Islamic State detainees in Gitmo would be a catastrophe for them; it would be a complete overrun of everything Obama has stood for on Gitmo since before he was elected. He can’t call Gitmo a recruiting tool for terrorists and a global image debacle and then fill it up with Islamists!

But then where else do you put them? And if you put them somewhere else, essentially you are going to have to recreate Gitmo somewhere other than Gitmo, which is absurd.

We picked Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, not the United States (Hawaii or mainland), not Midway, not Guam, not Diego Garcia because not only was Gitmo the “least worst place,” but because it was the absolute BEST PLACE. There is nowhere more secure or safe, especially in this era of global terror.

By ground there is a free fire no man’s land between Cuba and the base, which has a garrison of U.S. Marines that are battle ready 24/7/365. By air you can just imagine what armaments (missile defense systems), aircraft and drones are available. By sea you have the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy; you have radar, sonar, audio surveillance, etc.

If the president wants to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, the only way to do so is with the Army and Marine Corps. If you send in the Army and Marine Corps you will kill a lot of bad guys, but some will be wounded and some (or many) will surrender, hoping to make it to Obama’s terrorist rest & recreation resort at Guantanamo Bay for respite before he releases them.

The president refuses to send in ground troops to confront the Islamic State because he fears the consequences of filling Gitmo more than he fears the establishment of the Caliphate. Whose side is he on?

I am the author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior," and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter ID @mjgranger1

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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