- - Sunday, January 4, 2015


The legend (and it’s only a legend) is that George Washington could not tell a lie, even when his father confronted him as he stood over the stump of his father’s favorite cherry tree, hatchet in hand. The cherry tree story was a bit of Parson Weems’ harmless hyperbole. The hyperbole about Barack Obama is not likely to be flattering or harmless. He has established himself as the president of deception, with one important exception: his words and deeds about the American prison for terrorists at Guantanamo.

From Day One in the Oval Office, President Obama has been clear about his intention to close the terrorist prison, and though he dares not do it in one conclusive deed he is slowly accomplishing it by shrinking population, one or two or five at a time. The president for once means what he says, even if what he says and does puts Americans at risk.

The U.S. Defense Department announced Wednesday that it would transfer five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan. The five, three from Yemen and two from Tunisia, have been imprisoned at Guantanamo for more than a decade. All were captured in Pakistan and their lengthy stay as a guest of Uncle Sam suggests they were among the worst of the bad lot.

A new home in remote Kazakhstan sounds like exile to a far corner of the earth, but it recalls Joel Chandler Harris’ tale Bre’r Rabbit, who cleverly pleaded with Bre’r Fox not to throw him into the briar patch, knowing that the fox would be thus persuaded to do exactly that, and where he would be right at home. Once in “exile” in Kazakhstan, the Gitmo Five would be free to resume their deadly mischief-making. There would be little the United States could do to prevent their return to battle against America.

What sign did these terrorists give that they were no longer a threat to the United States? Did they renounce their commitment to jihad? Did they promise, cross their hearts, to seal a promise to be good, and board the plane with a salute to Old Glory? Why should they? It was not they who changed their tune, but Mr. Obama. To draw closer to his goal of closing down Guantanamo, the president raises the risk of violence by Islamic terrorists. The president is well-protected; the risk is not his, but ours.

Recidivism, the clinical term for the tendency of criminals to return to their evil ways, is a phenomenon that cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant statistic. Of the 431 detainees who have been sent back to the Middle East, a third by some reckoning have returned to killing and terrorizing their neighbors.

The number of enemy combatants, or terrorists, that the Obama administration has taken to Guantanamo for interrogation over the president’s six years in office is zero. The president’s aversion to sending captured terrorists to Guantanamo leaves American military forces two choices: take no prisoners or take them, with the evidence of their evil, to the United States for prosecution, an arduous and often ineffective process. Going easy on terrorists is a betrayal of the men and women who risk their lives to protect America.

The United States didn’t start the war against al Qaeda and their ilk, but it must finish it. Simply releasing the enemy to satisfy an ideological objective is as foolish as unilaterally declaring the end of a war, as the president has done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama can sleep soundly at night, but as the remaining 127 inmates trickle out of Guantanamo, bound for re-enlistment in the war against the West, vigilance must be the order of the day.



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