Obama is proceeding to release small handfuls of detainees to places like Uruguay while asking congressional Republicans to lift their ban on sending Guantanamo detainees to high-security U.S. prisons. If those efforts prove fruitless, there now is a new way to achieve his promise.
The president's pledge last May to close Guantanamo came amidst a mass hunger strike at the prison by men protesting their indefinite detention. Since then only a handful of men have been released from Guantanamo, where hungers strikes and brutal force-feedings continue.
During his first year in office, the president formed an interagency panel of top security and law enforcement experts to review every detainee at Guantanamo and cleared more than half of the detainees for release. Yet, most remain imprisoned.
When you watch the strange, repetitive political dance that swirls around Guantanamo -- the president announcing yet again that he plans to "close" it and the Republicans swearing that they won't let him -- it's hard not to wonder what alternative universe we live in.
If President Obama is concerned about his legacy, closing Guantanamo should be at the top of his list. President Bush created this mess, but it has fallen to Obama to fix it. Sometimes a leader has to ignore the polls and simply do what is right.