Of all of the unfulfilled promises of Barack Obama's presidency, none stands out more starkly than the continued operation of the disgraceful black hole that is Guantanamo Bay prison. Now, Obama is apparently trying to close the prison while he still can.
The major obstacle to closing Guantanamo, it should be said, has always been Republicans in Congress. They don't want to allow inmates from Guantanamo to be held in the U.S., and other countries don't want to take them. The Congressional intransigence is sickening, and it lacks any real rational reason, but there it is. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Obama administration is now "drafting options" for Obama to shut down Guantanamo's prison by executive action, without congressional approval. That would piss off Republicans and cheer people who care about basic standards of justice in equal measure. Obama's most likely tactic, according to the WSJ:
A second option would be for Mr. Obama to sign the [annual bill setting military policy] while declaring restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners an infringement of his powers as commander in chief, as he has done previously. Presidents of both parties have used such signing statements to clarify their understanding of legislative measures or put Congress on notice that they wouldn't comply with provisions they consider infringements of executive power.
It is a bad solution from methodological perspective, given the fact that it's not hard for liberals to remember when they were objecting to GW Bush's unilateral rejection of laws via "signing statements." Then again, fuck it. Guantanamo is an international disgrace and a black mark on America's conscience. For it to survive the entire Obama administration should be unthinkable. To Obama, and to us.