Friday, January 16, 2015

Will Gitmo Be Returned To Cuba?

In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama promised to make the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a top priority. He didn't do so well during his first term so he campaigned on that again, along with repairing roads and bridges - something else he promised the first go round and failed to do.

That seems to have changed. Since 2012, as best I can count, President Obama has released 27 detainees from Gitmo, most of whom seemingly released without Congressional approval. The releases became big news when Obama released the five Taliban commanders for the release of Army deserter Sergeant Bo Bergdahl in May of last year. Bergdahl, who reportedly walked away from his unit in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network for five years, had his freedom negotiated by the Obama administration and it only cost us five of the Taliban's top commanders that we were holding in Gitmo and (reportedly) five billion dollars.

Last three Islamic terrorists of Yemeni descent executed a raid on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and killed 12 employees, including some of their top cartoonists. The U.S. Congress declared that they would not release any more Gitmo detainees in the aftermath of the attacks. It seems President Obama didn't get the Memo because two days ago he authorized the release of five more detainees - all from Yemen.

The Paris police killed three Yemeni terrorists and President Obama sent them fresh troops.

My wife mentioned something to me last night that hadn't occurred to me. Obama is quickly removing detainees from Gitmo, whether or not he has Congressional approval, and he is determined to close it. At the same time he is trying to "normalize" relations with the Castro regime. Could it be in Obama's plans to empty Gitmo completely, Navy, Marines and all, and give the base back to Cuba? There are some who believe this is a possibility. But is it a good thing or a bad thing?

We have had the land on which Gitmo sits since 1903. It was leased from the Cuban government in an agreement and we have had it ever since. The Navy used it initially as a refueling station for ships in the area. The United States has paid the rent every year as agreed. In 1959, when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba, his government stopped cashing the rent checks and began demanding the land back.

The base is an important strategic placement in the Caribbean and since 2002, has also housed enemy combatants captured in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats have long been against the detention camp and President Obama has promised, on more than one occasion, that he would shut it down. It seems now he is determined to do it and I can't help but wonder if surrendering the base back to Cuba will be a part of it.

Obama wants to make nice with the Castro brothers, appease them, and make them happy, so he can include reuniting with Cuba in his legacy - whether or not it's a smart move. So what better way to do that than to close Gitmo and promise to give it back as soon as it's closed?

Obama has already gotten rid of many commanding officers in our military who won't blindly do his bidding. So I doubt there will be much opposition from military leaders to giving Gitmo back. Republicans in Washington might object but Obama doesn't much care about them. In fact - it seems he takes their objections as a challenge. He has proved that on several occasions.

Nothing Obama does these days surprises me. What would surprise me would be if he one day decides to follow the Constitution instead of doing whatever he wants. I believe impeachment should be on the table this year. It hasn't been until now since Republicans did not control the Senate. It still may not be. The House has enough votes to bring Articles of Impeachment against Obama but even though Republicans control the Senate they may not be able to acquire the required two-thirds vote necessary to convict him. Unless they can convince some Democrats to vote against Obama there is no possibility of removing him from office. And I, personally, wouldn't trust any Democrat who said they'd vote against him to actually do it.

I truly hope our military and our nation can survive two more years of Obama. With everything he does to cut the size and strength of our fighting forces, one can only wonder.

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