Fellow for Strategic CommunicationsMeet our expert
“I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day.” Who uttered those words this week? It wasn’t a liberal blogger or a radio talk show host. Nope. Those are the words of our commander-in-chief responding to seventh grader Laura Winfrey’s question after a speech in Cleveland. Winfrey asked, “if you could go back to the first day of your first term and the first day of your second term, what advice would you give yourself?” “I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day,” he said. While certainly not a surprise, it’s no less disheartening today than when the president signed the executive order for closure as one of his first acts in the White House. Instead of showing remorse about the nearly 1 in 3 released Gitmo detainees whom our intelligence authorities report are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight, President Obama’s instinct is to release even more. And instead of voicing regrets about the Islamic State (ISIS) taking over about a third of both Syria and Iraq and their genocide against the Christians, Yazidis and Muslims standing in their way; or failing to stop Iran’s nuclear program with a weak accord; or preventing Russia from seizing parts of eastern Ukraine and threatening the Baltics, Mr. Obama wishes that he could’ve done more to appease terrorists trying to kill as many Americans as possible. Wow. How can anyone possibly justify such a position? According to the president Guantanamo represents the worst about America. He says the military prison is not in accordance with our values, hurts our reputation overseas, and helps jihadist recruiting. Yet he doesn’t admit that keeping Americans safe is also an important value, just like he doesn’t admit that terrorists inspired by the tenets of radical Islam are the ones killing us and our allies. He says Guantanamo hurts our reputation, yet that’s largely due to the world’s largest propaganda effort. A campaign that has fought against the prison since it was created. And President Obama ought to know all of this because it’s been his friends on the far left who have been fanning the flames to distort the truth about Gitmo. As a former Pentagon spokesman from 2005-2009, I went to Guantanamo dozens of times escorting members of the press and representatives from various NGOs. The reality of the place as a role model prison was entirely different than the perverse hologram of what the international left made it out to be. Mr. Obama also doesn’t admit that those “violent extremists” who happen to be advancing radical Islam around the world have attacked Americans under the watchful eye of every president since the 1970s. For instance: Iran’s seizure of the American Embassy, holding 52 hostages for 444 days; the Marine Barracks destruction in Lebanon; Pan Am Flight 103 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland; Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia; American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; USS Cole bombing in Yemen; and Sept. 11 with nearly 3,000 killed right here at home. All these attacks were prior to Gitmo holding even one single jihadist, thus closing it won’t make any difference whatsoever. As long as the leaders of radical Islam see America as an enemy and impediment to their global domination — whether against a re-established Caliphate led by Sunni extremists, or an Iranian empire led by Shia extremists, they will keep attacking us until we’re driven out of the Middle East entirely and Israel is wiped off the map. Let’s face it, President Obama has made good on his promise to deliver change — just like he pledged he would. The recent spike in the drama between him and Congressional Republicans is all about their efforts to stop him from bringing more progressive change to our way of life. Many observers have focused on Republican reaction to his proposed changes as unrelated, random acts of defiance. Yet they are missing the forest for the trees. In the faculty lounge where Mr. Obama formed his worldview, many believe America must atone for past sins. To them, U.S. power, and so-called overreach by our country is the problem. Which explains the president’s unwavering obsession with closing Gitmo. Looking at the big picture, Congressional Republicans are hitting a series of panic buttons. They’re slamming on the brakes to halt Obama’s vision of a “transformed” America, which includes shutting down Gitmo and letting the chips fall where they may. With a stark reminder of Mr. Obama’s worldview on full display this week, who can blame them?