WaPo reported Friday that the White House is "working to recover from missteps that have put officials behind schedule" in closing Guantanamo. Greg Craig, charged with leading the mission, is being replaced by Pete Rouse. Craig was caught off guard after crafting the January 2010 deadline:
Senior administration officials said the central roadblock during those early months was the condition of the detainee files, which had been left in disarray by the previous administration. "We assumed that for each detainee there was going to be a file somewhere," one senior administration official said. "Some of the intelligence files were not even organized by detainee.
Jim Geraghty views this story as vindication that closing Gitmo is untenable. He targets the Dish and splutters:
The close-Gitmo crowd was, and is, stupid. The we-can-deal-with-Iran crowd was, and is, stupid. They didn't want to see the counter-evidence. They didn't want to think about all the complications, the scenarios where their plans don't work out as planned. They insisted the world operated in a certain way, and we argued otherwise. A man who espouses their views won last year. And now they learn that there aren’t easy and good alternatives to Gitmo, and that the Iranians can’t be trusted. With any luck, this crowd’s weapons-grade refusal to see the hard truths of a difficult and dangerous world won’t get anyone killed.
What excitable piffle. I don't know many people who believe that Ahmadinejad can be a useful negotiating partner - but making the failure of talks his responsibility and not ours is obviously the point here. And let us consider the positive results of the alternative Cheney position: endless public relations victories for Iran, a dismembered and weakened Iraq (one less thing for Tehran to worry about), eight years of nuclear development, alienation of Russia (preventing any hope of international sanctions), and an increasing gulf between Israel and her Sunni neighbors. Did that help? Who's living in the real world here?
As for Gitmo, does Geraghty believe it was a net plus for the US?
Does he place no weight on America being identified in the world as a torturing nation, running a web of torture-and-abuse camps? Does he think that helps us win the battle for hearts and minds against al Qaeda? Please.
Closing Gitmo was supported by Bush, McCain, Powell and Petraeus. Are they all stupid? That the Bush administration collected no real data for prosecution (they set up Gitmo not to prosecute terrorists but to torture them) is not Obama's fault. Adjusting to practical and legal details, even to the extent of postponing the actual closure for a while, is simply a matter of responsibility, responsibility the Cheneyites never took.
As for Iran, does Geraghty believe that a careful process whereby the rest of the world takes the lead in warning Iran, in which the opposition within Iran makes the internal isolation of Ahmadinejad more possible, in which Russia, yes Russia, is softening its hard line against sanctions ... does he believe Bush and Cheney achieved more?
What the neocons do not seem to be able to grasp is that America's open hand to Iran is not weakness, but strength. It calls their bluff, has refocused global attention on the real problem - not American hegemony but Tehran's insanity, and has moved the ball further forward than at any time under Bush and Cheney. Hence their splutters. There are enormous challenges and dangers ahead, but the worldview of the neocons - that violence and coercion and polarization are the only tools in foreign policy - is looking shakier by the day.