That didn’t take very long: While the Obamas were waltzing at their inauguration balls, the president’s staff forwarded an executive order to Guantanamo Bay, directing that all terrorist tribunals, including Omar Khadr’s, be postponed for 120 days. It is widely believed that Obama will sign a second executive order that will close the infamous prison camp—and a dark chapter in U.S. foreign policy—for good. But in the words of one senior Bush Administration official, the new commander-in-chief will have “a devil of a time” trying to make that happen. John Bellinger–a day removed from his job as legal advisor to Condoleezza Rice—says he lobbied hard to close what he describes as “a huge blackeye for the United States,” but his efforts were constantly undermined by former vice-president Dick Cheney and other hawks within the department of justice and the U.S. intelligence agencies. “The real sadness,” he says, “[was that] despite the endless debate about what to do, and a recognition by many that it was causing us real damage, we could simply not evolve into a position to close it down.” Bellinger also says that despite the vocal opposition of many western allies, “not one” offered a workable solution. And he warns that the most reasonable plan—moving the worst of the worst to military prisons on U.S. soil—will trigger “a political battle royal” because many politicians and members of the public will say “not in my backyard.” Welcome to the Oval Office, Mr. President.
Postponing Khadr’s trial was the easy part
A former Bush official explains the the Guantanamo quagmire
FILED UNDER: US politics