24 April 2011

An autopsy of the president's failed effort to close Guantanamo

Beverly Eckert had more reason than most Americans to seek justice for those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. And she felt strongly that terrorism suspects should be tried on U.S. soil rather than being held indefinitely at Guantanamo or put before military tribunals. So she was a strong supporter of President Obama's call to close Guantanamo and try the suspects in U.S. courts. But his plans gradually unravelled, as shown in a lengthy analysis in the Washington Post. In short, the plan was not presented effectively to the public, and efforts to counteract strong congressional opposition failed because the White House did not have a strong, coherent, and convincing game plan. When Congress fought the closure, the White House blinked.

Beverly Eckert and her colleagues learned quickly how to win in Washington: know your subject; hone your message; build durable coalitions; and never ever back down.

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