TERRORISM | Ett vallöfte som Barack Obama fortfarande inte gjort något åt är löftet om att stänga fängelset i Guantánamo Bay på Kuba.
Länge verkade som om presidenten inte ens brydde sig om vallöftet. Han har framstått som direkt ointresserad av att väcka frågan till liv.
Men nu har han tydligen tagit nya tag. Och eftersom han inte kommer någon vart med kongressen skall han istället vädja direkt till väljarna för sin sak.
Frågan är naturligtvis om väljarna bryr sig om frågan. Kanske är man nöjda med att ha de misstänkta terroristerna på behörigt avstånd från det amerikanska fastlandet.
Daniel Klaidman skrev nyligen i Newsweek:
Throughout his presidency, pleas for action on Guantánamo from civil libertarians, friends, and top advisers have reportedly tugged at Obama’s conscience. But politics and a weary fatalism subsumed action nearly every time.
Obama’s approach to Gitmo had begun idealistically: on his second day in office, in January 2009, he signed an executive order directing the facility to be closed in a year. A month later, at his first State of the Union address, he spoke stirringly on the issue. “There is no force in the world more powerful than America,” Obama said. “That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists—because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safe and it makes us stronger.”
But the reality, of course, is that Obama cannot close Gitmo by himself. He’s going to need Congress to sign off. And therein lies the central challenge. To date, the public’s emotional response to terrorism has made Gitmo a ripe target for political demagoguery on Capitol Hill. So how to cajole self-interested lawmakers to take a major political risk on behalf of 166 men who have little or no constituency? Obama’s answer seems to be that he is going to make his case to the public.
His supporters also argue that instead of giving up, Obama has shifted to a long-road strategy, which sometimes requires backing down from epic confrontations in the hope that over time the politics will turn his way. In at least one area—prosecuting suspected terrorists in civilian courts—that approach may be working. Though Obama caved to criticism and backed down on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in court back in 2011, he subsequently decided to have a string of captured terrorists tried in the civilian justice system, the latest being Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber. Over time, the criticism has dwindled to barely a peep.
Even some civil libertarians—Obama’s fiercest critics on Guantánamo—are optimistic that he has built up the resolve to finally fix the situation. “I am more optimistic this time around, because he’s no longer naive about the politics,” says David Cole, a professor of constitutional law and national security at Georgetown. “He’s lived through four years of stalemate on this, so the fact that he was nonetheless as strong and passionate about his concerns suggests to me that he really has made a renewed commitment to take it on.”
Whether or not Cole is right, Gitmo does appear—for now at least—to have Obama’s attention again.
Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är Newsweek den 27 maj 2013.