The impossible Gitmo deadline: 24 hours?

It wasn’t until I read this AoSHQ post about the delay in the detention report (preliminary details here) that I started counting off the months on my fingers.  Six months from July 21st makes… January 21st, more or less.

The work of a Justice Department-led task force, which had been scheduled to send a report on detention policy to President Obama on Tuesday, will be extended for six months, according to senior administration officials. A second task force examining interrogation policy will get a two-month extension to complete its work, which had also been due Tuesday.


The officials said the administration remains committed to closing the prison in Cuba by January 2010…

I fail to see how.  After the fold is the relevant text of the original Executive Order: note that it is dated January 22, 2009.

Sec. 3. Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

And what is “a manner consistent with law and the national security and the foreign policy interests of the United States”? Well, as per another Executive Order there’s a task force that’s supposed to determine that:

(e) Mission. The mission of the Special Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.

And yes, that’s the task force which will be delaying its report by six months. In other words, we will not find out what will happen to the remaining Gitmo detainees until the day before they’re scheduled to be removed from the facility.  And then we’ll have twenty-four hours to implement the policy, whatever it is; with no preparation, except by sheerest accident.  This is United States government policy that we’re talking about here, not a 300-level Poli Sci term paper: you can’t just pull an all-nighter the night before and do the whole thing in just one sitting.

When will this administration learn that?

Moe Lane

PS: I don’t care if it can end up being done more or less all right, kind of; this is a stupid way to handle counter-terrorism strategy.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.