03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

GOP Continues to Cower in Front of al Qaeda

Spencer Ackerman reports that despite Republican histrionics in the wake of failed Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration is still steadfast in its goal of closing Guantanamo. According to a senior administration official:

We are, as I suggested, going through this with a fine-tooth comb. But I also just hasten to add the bigger picture here which is that we believe closing Gitmo is in the national security interest of the country for the reasons I've just outlined.

This is obviously a resolute response to the Dick Cheneys and Peter Kings who want to revert back to the Bush administration policies that failed to keep us safe and inflamed the embers of extremism overseas. But it also goes back to a larger point. It's been official U.S. policy for nearly a year now that Guantanamo will be closing, despite some setbacks in Congress and in the time line. This isn't just a rhetorical aspiration, it's actually encoded in U.S. law through executive order. Congress hasn't been able to stop it. Heck, even the former Vice President has been powerless to influence this outcome. But wouldn't the greatest gift we could give al Qaeda is for one 23-year-old from Nigeria with failed explosives in his underwear to upend U.S. law, derail our political system, and cause a stated U.S. policy to be reversed? This for al Qaeda would be more important than the tragic deaths of innocent Americans, to see our way of life and political system continue to be disrupted by their terrorist tactics. Sadly, this has already happened with the previous Republican administration allowing torture to become official U.S. policy and casting aside the rule of law by opening Guantanamo in the first place. This didn't enhance American security. It gave dangerous moral victories our enemies.

And this reality is something the GOP just can't grasp. Every time they clamor for torture, every time they say we can't try terrorists in U.S. courts or detain them domestically, that ostensibly does more to embolden al Qaeda than if they'd actually caused the loss of lives. Killing Americans is secondary to their larger goal of creating mass casualty of America's constitution, bedrock institutions, and society in general. And the GOP's reactionary and hostile calls for Guantanamo to remain open because some twisted and wayward extremist failed to blow up a plane simply plays into our enemies hands. Simply put, American policies should not be the knee jerk reaction to the whims and tyranny of terrorists. We've been down that road before, and it did nothing protect American lives.

Instead of cowering in front of our enemies, the tougher, more resolute, and inherently more patriotic approach would be to say it doesn't matter how many terrorists al Qaeda sends our way, we're going to remain steadfast in our system of governance, way of life, and uphold the values that make America great while keeping our country safe. And making sure America, not al Qaeda, dictates the course of which this process takes is central to that.