Obama Administration: No New Gitmo Prisoners

A Navy guard patrols the Camp Delta recreation yard at Guantanamo Bay.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtfgtmo/4818195608/">Joint Task Force Guantanamo</a>/Flickr

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On Thursday, Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan announced to reporters that the Obama administration has ruled out sending any new terror suspects to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. Politico has the story:

“We’re not going to bring people to Guantanamo…It’s this administration’s policy to close Guantanamo and, despite some congressional hurdles that have been put in our path, we’re going to continue to pursue that.” …

Brennan said…that if a suspected terrorist operative were captured and a civilian criminal prosecution were not feasible, it is possible that person could be placed in military custody and brought to the United States for trial by a military commission. The Obama administration is moving forward with such commissions at Guantanamo but has never initiated one on U.S. soil…

Brennan did not say how the U.S. would proceed against a suspected terrorist operative when there is no admissible evidence of a war crime that could be prosecuted in either a civilian or military court.

It’s easy to greet this news with cynicism, and it’s a cop-out to lay the blame solely on “some congressional hurdles.” In the almost three years since his executive order to have the facility closed within 12 months, President Obama has reversed course on military trials for Gitmo prisoners, and the fully operational detention center continues to stand as yet another broken campaign promise. The Obama administration has been so sluggish on this that the president has even received some backhanded kudos from the likes of Ann Coulter and Rick Perry for not shuttering the military prison during his first term.

(Also, as Mother Jones‘ news editor Nick Baumann reported, the FBI’s secret program to have American citizens detained and interrogated by foreign governments doesn’t exactly boost Obama’s stature among critics of the War on Terror, either.)

When held against these unpleasant facts, Brennan’s announcement risks coming off as unremarkable or verging into too-little-too-late territory. But it does show the president flexing a shred of muscle on a key aspect of the Gitmo issue. And in spite of the Republicans’ sustained efforts over the years to limit options and restrict transfers from the facility, the administration is not budging (at least for now) on flooding the controversial site with more inmates.

And that should be worth a couple civil libertarian golf-claps.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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