Upon announcing his plan to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Barack Obama also began a process that would review the case files for every detainee. The problem for the new administration, however, is that there are no files.
It should surprise no one, really. Considering recent reports that one or two released previously from Gitmo are actively involved in terrorism should have been a clue, not that everyone held at the Cuban concentration camp is evil, but that the Bush Administration was clearly incompetent at doing something as simple as keeping the United States safe from terrorists. Steven Benen highlights from a report in The Washington Post:
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.
The title comes from John Cole, who also said, in the same piece:
Why is this repeatedly framed as a problem for Obama, when what this really is is evidence that the Bush administration accomplished NOTHING with Guantanamo. This is not a problem for Obama. This is proof that the last administration was a group of incompetent hacks. Bush decided that he had the right to detain people forever, do whatever he wanted to them, and they had no rights whatsoever, he ruined our international reputation and most likely violated dozens of laws, yet he let these allegedly dangerous people go. Why? What was the purpose of Gitmo, anyway? Why do all this stuff and STILL let the dangerous guys go free?
Because they had no idea what they were doing. They were so intent on DWTFTW, to hell with domestic and international law, that they paid no attention to the fact that torture and abuse doesn’t lead to good evidence and means that you can not prosecute.
The moral of this story is not the danger for Obama going forward with his Gitmo decommissioning, the moral is that when venal, shallow, small men are given unfettered power and authority, they do incompetent, stupid, and evil things.(emphasis added)
We've been saying it for years; I've been saying it for a couple years and every time I do some right-wing nutjob tells me I don't know what I'm talking about, there's no evidence, yadda-yadda. Well, I've got your evidence right here, folks, and it's just more proof that the Bush folks were just awful.