President Barak Obama’s latest attempt to guilt Americans and Congressional lawmakers into letting him have his way to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, brings to mind Star Wars’ Obi Wan Kenobi’s Jedi mind trick on Storm Troopers in Episode IV:
Obi Wan Obama is trying the same trick vis-à-vis Gitmo.
He would like for all of us and Congress to simply get out of his way because he wants to move along. This nonsense about people not letting him close Gitmo because he wants it closed is irritating him to the point of distraction.
Trained as a lawyer, Obama has no other choice than to look at the closure of Gitmo as a legal question, but one that can be dissected, parsed and spun to his liking. He appears determined to close the facility, even after recently signing into law the new National Defense Authorization Act, which contains provisions preventing him from transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States.
He would need to transfer detainees somewhere else in order to empty Gitmo and then close it. Ten detainees are being tried for war crimes there, and nearly 100 more are either waiting release to their country of origin, a third-party country, or are deemed too dangerous to release.
In this May 23, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama talks about national security, at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington. Five years into his presidency, Obama presides over a national security apparatus that in many ways still resembles the one left behind by President George W. Bush. Drones are killing terrorism suspects, the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, holds "enemy combatants," and the government secretly collects telephone records of millions of Americans. Credit: AP
Jedi mind trick aside, Gitmo is still the safest, most secure and best place for unlawful combatants who want to kill us. It is humane, moral, ethical and legal.
President Obama's continued practice of taqiyya (Islam's moral absolution of lying) distorts the reality of the ongoing Global War on Terror. The president declared the War on Terror "over" in 2013, and has sought to disengage from Middle East conflicts, only to be reluctantly drawn back in, most recently by the Islamic State, who continue to befuddle and outwit the presidents attempt to degrade and destroy what he described as the J.V. team.
If he can't kill every Islamist from a distance via bombing and drones, he still doesn't want to capture any alive, lest detractors suggest they be incarcerated and questioned at Gitmo. This is either delusional or devious. Either way, he continues to give aid and comfort to our enemies by releasing them back into the fight.
His latest statements regarding the provisions in the new NDAA hint that he feels he has a Constitutional right to move the remaining detainees wherever he pleases. He has said that he feels the language of the provisions in the NDAA encroach on the separation of powers in the Constitution.
If Obama challenges the legality of the restrictions in the NDAA, which prevent detainees from entering the United States, there would be fierce opposition in Congress from both sides of the aisle. There could even be a Constitutional crisis if no clear resolution emerges from a potential debate in Congress.
Some lawmakers have openly advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ignore any order from Obama to move detainees to the U.S., claiming such an order would be illegal.
Military officers take an oath of office that they will “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office” to which they are appointed, which includes obeying lawful orders of those appointed above them. Often, to avoid charges of insubordination and conduct unbecoming an officer, questionable orders may be followed and then later challenged through appropriate avenues of redress.
However, sometimes there is not enough time or the consequences of either following or disobeying a direct order are too great to consider waiting until later to determine the legality or morality of it.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have the luxury of seeking advice from their General Counsel before making a legally complex decision. More often, a leader simply makes the best decision they can giving the time, circumstances and necessity within the context of completing their mission.
The mission of a military officer will always include moral, ethical and legal considerations. In the case of closing Gitmo by transferring detainees to the United States, the order would have to go from the president, to the Secretary of Defense, to the operational commander of the United States Southern Command, in this case U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly.
The buck could stop with Gen. Kelly, a 40-year military veteran and Gold Star dad, whose USMC son was killed in the Global War on Terror. He is due to retire before the end of the year. He’s a lame duck, and therefore would have little to lose were he to refuse Obama’s potential order to illegally transfer detainees to the United States. It is more likely that Obama would wait until after Kelly retires, and then try his luck with apparent successor, U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, and then give the order to transfer detainees out of Gitmo to the U.S. Adm. Tidd is experienced in diplomacy and anti-terror operations.
If the Southern Command commander gives the order to his subordinate commanders they are unlikely to challenge the order. They would be risking their careers by doing so. They still could challenge the order, but trust and loyalty are strong values in the military and are rarely if ever broken.
If an order to close Gitmo by Obi Wan Obama goes unchallenged by military commanders it will be left to us, The People of the United States of America and our representatives, to resist his mind tricks and do what’s necessary to preserve at least one element we know works against unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us: keep Gitmo open.
Montgomery Granger is a three-times mobilized U.S. Army major (Ret.) and author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior." Amazon, Blog, Facebook, Twitter: @mjgranger1
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