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Back in December I wrote about the efforts of the Bush administration and the Pentagon to sabotage then President-elect Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo. Since "burrowing" was so much in the news at the time, I applied it to this effort as well.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three senior Pentagon officials tapped by the Bush administration to oversee detainee policy at Guantanamo Bay remain on the job despite President Barack Obama's order to reverse course at the Navy prison in Cuba.
The Bush appointees' ongoing influence over one of Obama's first and most sensitive national security decisions raises questions by critics — within and outside the Pentagon — about whether those who championed the controversial Guantanamo military court system can now be depended upon to help shut it down.
Until Thursday, the senior judge in charge of terrorist trials at Guantanamo had stalled in enforcing Obama's demand to halt all court proceedings for the estimated 245 terror suspects held there. The judge, Susan J. Crawford, is a Bush political appointee.
Two other officials, working in the Pentagon's detainee policy office, have been shunted into civil service jobs. As a result, they cannot be summarily fired because of the change in presidential administrations.
Sen. Feinstein has asked Secretary Gates to investigate:
"I ask that you immediately review the circumstances behind the conversion of these positions and the hiring of any former Bush administration appointees as career or temporary appointments in that office," Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in the letter dated Feb. 4. "This is especially disconcerting within the Office of Detainee Affairs due to the nature of the policy recommendations that office provides regarding Guantanamo."
In the meantime, job reassignments would be in order for the two officials in the Pentagon. Most particularly, Tara Jones, who was deeply involved in the "Pentagon Pundits" scandal, "helping to coordinate the military's courtship of former officers who used TV appearances to promote George W. Bush's Iraq war policies."
Crawford is more of a difficulty, but could be circumvented by the administration if charges were dropped against the remaining detainees and they were recharged in either regular military or federal courts. That can't happened immediately, and the administration (absolutely rightly) would want to avoid the inevitable headlines screaming "Obama Drops Charges against Guantanamo Terrorists."
But this does argue for resolution of the cases of the Guantanamo detainees as soon as it can humanly, and responsibly happen.
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 06:30 PM PST.