The Obama administration has been outwardly critical of President Bush’s counterterrorism policies while quietly keeping most of these policies in place. Obama has expressed support for trying terrorists in civilian courts, but at a Senate hearing yesterday, CIA director Leon Panetta said that Osama bin Laden would likely be sent to Guantanamo Bay if captured:
That suggests that, at least under current law, bin Laden would not be transferred to US soil to be tried in the civilian court system. Congress last year ordered that no federal money could be spent to ship Guantanamo detainees to the US mainland. Bin Laden was indicted in the Sept. 11 attacks and could stand trial in New York. Panetta’s remarks indicate that given the choice, Obama would opt to use the Bush administration policy that Obama has long criticized.
Asked about the president’s position on sending bin Laden to Guantanamo Bay, the White House gave a non-answer.
“The president remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because as our military commanders have made clear, it’s a national security priority to do so,’’ spokesman Jay Carney said, according to the Boston Globe. “I’m not going to speculate about what, you know, would happen if we were to capture Osama bin Laden.”
Clearly, Obama has realized that the policies he denounced Bush for are actually necessary for fighting the war on terror. But will the anti-war activists, who were so rabidly opposed to Gitmo under Bush, actually call Obama out for this latest shift?