Monday, May 18, 2009

Guantanamerica [sic]

There has been a great degree of puzzlement of late when it comes to understanding the Obama Administration's position on the dispostion of Guantanamo prisoners ("detainees" is a euphemestic work design to make you think the government isn't really doing anything sinister and that maybe they'll be released any day now). So far, Congressional Democrats have allowed themselves to be rolled by conservative mau-mauing on the issue of "letting terrorsits into the United States" even though everyone knows full well that former Guantanamo prisoners will likely be put in either maxmimum security Federal Prisons in places like Marion, Illinois; in maximum security military detention facilities; or in places where the public is manly enough to understand that imprisoned terrorists don't pose any real threat to the United States just because the prison they're staying in happens to be on American soil.

One thing to consider here is the likelihood that the Obama administration has already gamed out portions of the public debate on the treatment of former Guantanamo inmates. If you look at public appearances from the more liberated Obama Campaign operatives, one thing you will notice is that they anticipated almost everything; they knew that Obama would take a hit while he was in Hawaii; they understood that the Palin boomlet was ephemeral; they quickly realized that Joe the Plumber wasn't giving the GOP any real traction; and they determined that the proper response to the Bill Ayers controversy was not to elevate the controversy. Give the White House's unwillingness to engage on this particulary front, the most plausible conclusion is that they have determined that it is indeed a no-win situation. Getting into a debate with Lindsay Graham over where to house prisoners is more likely to harm the chances of treating them as common criminals than it is to help.

At some point, I suspect, the Obama Administration will game out some piece of public opinion, and it will be wrong. But at the moment, there ought to be a strong presumption that Obama and his team understand how to "make[] people who critisize him look like fools".

Bear in mind that I don't particularly like this set of events. Someone should really be willing to say "Look: the Republican party is just making shit up. The prisoners at Guantanamo will all go to maximum security prisons until they can stand trial. There is no danger to the American public; this is just a scare tactic the Republicans are using because they don't think you're smart enough to realize what's really going on." But it hasn't happened. Perhaps there's a reason for that ...
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