Byron York has an interesting piece in the Washington Examiner today outlining White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s bizarre appearances on the Sunday news shows yesterday, in which despite opposition from every Republican and a number of Democrats in Congress, the Obama administration plans to move forward with repatriating Guantanamo prisoners/al Qaeda terrorists to Yemen.
Brennan said on both Fox News and NBC yesterday that the administration has sent six or seven Gitmo detainees to Yemen, and “many” of those are in the custody of Yemeni authorities. He also said that the administration would proceed on a “case by case basis” with continuing that repatriation despite a situation so unstable in that country that America, Great Britain and France have all closed embassies there. In the case of the American embassy in Yemen, it was closed “in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen.” Unconfirmed reports are abundant to the effect that American Predator drones are hard at work attempting to take out al-Qaeda operatives in the desert areas along the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but it’s clear those efforts aren’t finished at this time. The Saudi military is fighting an al-Qaeda force in that border area, with the help of Jordanian troops – and last week the Saudis asked Egypt for help but were turned down.
Brennan’s presentation included a re-assertion that Guantanamo is a rallying point for Islamists and terrorist recruiting, giving off a strong implication that the Obama administration thinks it’s more important to depopulate Gitmo than to keep terrorists off the streets.
The question is, why? The American people disagree with Obama’s stance on closing Gitmo, they disagree with his stance on CIA waterboarding of terrorists, they disagree with him on using law enforcement means to fight enemy combatants and they disagree with him on repatriating al-Qaeda terrorists to unstable Islamic countries.
Is there anything in this policy which contributes to the safety of the American people? If so, our well-rested president had best fire up his teleprompter and articulate it – and soon.
UPDATE: I really should have included a link to Andrew McCarthy’s terrific piece in National Review today which attacks several other issues related to the Yemen situation, among them the Justice Department’s failure to pursue legal means to keep the courts from impinging on war policy. Also, for more on the situation in Yemen I recommend Gregory Johnsen’s terrifying piece in Foreign Policy – a reading of which would doubtless lead any observer to wonder how on earth the Obama administration could possibly conclude releasing Gitmo detainees there is consistent with national security.