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Where’s the Outrage: 1 Year Later, Gitmo Not Closed

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
February 2, 2010

One of the first things that Barack Obama did after being swept into office on the wings of “hopenchange” was to sign an executive order that would close the terrorist detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama gave a one-year deadline after which he triumphantly informed us the facility would be closed. Well, we are at one year plus ten days after the signing of the order and Gitmo is still open. Yet few stories expressing outrage about this lapsed promise have made the rounds in the Old Media.

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On January 22, 2009, Obama signed the Executive Order that gravely asserted that Gitmo would be closed “no later than 1 year from the date of this order.” That was January 22, 2009. It is now February 1, 2010. I’d say a year and ten days after the order was signed just might constitute more than “no later than one year,” wouldn’t you?

Naturally, last year when Obama signed this order the Old Media covered it quite heavily. It was big news and was represented as an example of Obama’s fulfilling a campaign promise. All one need do is type “close Guantanamo executive order” into Google and page after page of Old Media coverage of the signing of the EO will be discovered.

Certainly the Old Media was all aflutter over the signing in 2009. The Washington Post, for instance, trumpeted that Obama’s action, “drew praise from human rights groups as well as politicians and statesmen around the globe.” MSNBC breathlessly informed its readers that, “President Barack Obama on Thursday moved quickly to undo a contentious Bush administration national security program…” For its part, the AP had a report posted on the CBS News page with a headline screaming that, “Obama Upends Bush, Will Close Guantanamo.” And that’s just the news, not the commentariat. Treatment was even more adulatory by political commentators throughout the Old Media.

Again, however, we are now ten days past the deadline that the President set for his momentous “upending of Bush.” One might think that the Old Media would be filled with finger waggers sternly taking President Obama to task for missing his own deadline. One would think that the commentariat would be excoriating Obama for his obvious prevarication on Gitmo.

It isn’t that the Old Media has ignored the missed deadline. One can certainly find a few stories about the issue. But the level of coverage is in no way comparable. According to the Google metrics, typing in “close Guantanamo executive order” gets 140,000 hits. But typing in “close Guantanamo missed deadline” only nets 30,400 hits. That’s quite a disparity.

But I find the most interesting aspect of the missed deadline coverage is the lack of attacks on Obama’s integrity over it all. Can anyone honestly say that the kid glove treatment that this missed deadline is receiving today would have been afforded President Bush if he had done something similar?

So, where are the outraged comments by Keith Olbermann, where’s the snarky jokes by John Stewart? How about the tsking from the chicks on The View? Where’s the Rachel Maddow smack-down? How about a double-barreled Frank Rich take down? Is Joe Klein apoplectic yet? Is there not even a Mo Dowd explosion? Some of these folks have mentioned the missed deadline, but the level of vituperation these same people had for George W. Bush’s Gitmo policies is noticeably absent in discussing Obama’s blatantly missed deadline for closing it, the same deadline they so lovingly reported only a year ago.

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